Two groups of registered voters were given surveys about their voting behaviour right before an election.
The first group was asked questions that included the verb ‘to vote’. E.g. ‘How importat is it to you to vote?’ The second group was asked similar questions that included the noun ‘voter’. E.g. ‘How important is it to you to be a voter?’
Would this minor difference in wording have an effect on the voting behaviour of the participants?
Another study asked one group of people to use the words ‘I can’t’ in relation to eating unhealthy food. E.g. I can’t each much junk food. A second group was instructed to use the words ‘I don’t’ instead E.g. I don’t eat much junk food. As a reward for the study, the participants were offered either a chocolate bar or a healthier granola bar. Which group do you think picked the more virtuous option?
In both cases, the groups that picked words that reflected their identity followed through with their actions. The group that was nudged to identify themselves as voters were far likelier to vote. And a larger proportion of the group stated that they don’t indulge in junk food, picked up the granola bar on the way out.
If you wish to engage more in a certain behaviour, make it personal. Instead of stating ‘I would like to run more often’, say ‘I am going to become a runner’ instead.