Applying the Fun Theory to Public Behavior: Could it Affect St. Louis Transit?Return to Blog
The folks over at Volkswagen have been having a good time with their “The Fun Theory” ad initiative, which states that by introducing fun to public spaces, you can change behavior for the better. So they asked people all over the world to submit their ideas for using fun to change how people act. Not surprisingly, several of the best submissions (including Volkswagon’s own) involves public transit spaces.
Using the piano stairs, stations goers used the stairs 66% more often than usual. It’s a healthier alternative, and saves wear and tear on the escalator.
Volkswagon’s latest ad initiative: “Fast Lane: What Drives You?” uses the addition of a candy-red slide in an otherwise pastel Alexanderplatz Transit Hub in Berlin, Germany subway to show how childlike fun improves the mood of entire transit experience.
City Museum’s slide is more impressive, but this one looks fun too.
When you have public shared spaces, you inevitably have to address public health concerns. A group of Yale University students tackled the prevalence of illness on college campuses by encouraging students to use more hand sanitizer. With a little help from a few of our favorite childhood Nintendo sounds (we guessed Mario Kart!), the student experimenters successfully increased the number of students using hand sanitizer by seven times.
1-Up for using hand sanitizer!
This video, called “Enjoy My View”, installed a periscope at one of the New York City MTA bus stops, allowing transit riders to look down the street for their bus. Anybody who’s waited for a bus has played the “Step off the curb, squint your eyes, look for the bus” game. The designers not only wanted to provide a fun diversion from the tedium of waiting for the bus, but to also raise awareness of the need for real-time system information at stops.
Planetizen has a great review of Tim book My Kind of Transit: Rethinking Public Transit in America looking at the way the emotional factors affect how people are both drawn and stay away from public transit. He argues that public transit still has to be about the unique, place-making aspect of transit in addition to travel efficiency.
The Fun Theory award entries page hosts many other creative means to influence public behavior such as recycling, littering, even the performance of public works employees. What would you do to encourage good behavior on public transit and in public spaces? Get people to walk more, ride bikes, recycle, respect each other’s space? Have you seen any creative means of influencing behavior or creating place in St. Louis that could be applied?