Improving passengers behaviour using nudge theory

In the article The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations the author writes about the nudge theories strategies adopted by the West Japan Railways for improving good passengers behaviours and decreasing suicides.

With 13 billions of passengers per year, the Japan’s railway network is famous for its punctuality and for the stations overcrowding. As everybody should know, the public transportation punctuality is not just a question of planning, vehicles or infrastructure. Often the bad passengers and other vehicle behaviours can cause a strong efficiency decrease.

The behavioural approach of the nudge theory says that the use of some indirect suggestions or reinforcements can change the human behaviour. For example there are the floor stickers for regulating people flows in crowd stations that improved their capacity. Or the “buy now” call to action that we find in the sponsored post on the social networks. I must say that the difference between advertising and behavioural psychology is really thin, but the thing that I liked most about Japan’s nudge strategies is the human approach. They indeed are trying more to take care of the passengers mood than modifying it.

I found ingenious the substitution of the emergency-like sound alert when the train is leaving with a melody composed for reducing the passenger stress and giving a sort of train leaving timing. These melodies had the effect to calm down the passengers reducing the overcrowding and decreasing the last second jumps that cause doors problems and delates. Following the video with all the melodies that obviously have a really strong manga approach.

The other nudge strategy that at first seems banal is regarding the suicides containment using some led lights installed at the ends of the platforms. According some studies the blue color has a calming effect, but what seems just a neuro-marketing concept, in that country had incredible results. Japan has the highest suicide rate of the world’s most advanced country and the blue led light installation decreased this rate of the 84%.

Concluding I think that the nudge theory in Italy could be used, but adapting it to our particular approach to transportation and public spaces. I found really interesting that some stickers or sound alerts could improve the transportation efficiency with a really low investment.
This will surely change the way I’ll work in the future.

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