The Power and Peril of Precise vs. Round Health Message Interventions to Increase Stair-Use

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Taking the stairs vs. an elevator generate benefits for the individual by increasing overall physical activity, health, and wellbeing. In the present paper, we report two pre-registered field intervention studies that examine how health message interventions can motivate individuals to change their behavior. We empirically contrasted opposing predictions from the literature as to whether numerically round (60.00%) or precise (61.87%) health messages are more effective in causing people to use the stairs over taking the elevator. Both interventions were compared to a control condition (no-health message). Contrary to our hypotheses and extant findings, both intervention studies did not produce a significant positive effect of the interventions relative to the control condition. In recent years such null findings have received increasingly more appreciation, particularly in the light of evident downsides of file-drawered studies. We discuss a number of moderating factors that may determine when and why nudging interventions are (in-) effective (e.g., a priori behavioral prevalence, pre-established habits, ceiling effects, and building infrastructure), as well as limitations and avenues for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number624198
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 27.07.2021

Bibliographical note

This publication was funded by the Open Access Publication Fund of Leuphana University Lüneburg.

Copyright © 2021 Krull, Boecker and Loschelder.

    Research areas

  • Psychology - nudging, stair use, health, health risk perception, numeric precision