SMALL THINGS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

SMALL THINGS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

| October 10, 2019
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A Planet Money staffer asked a couple of Harvard professors what small things they would do to improve the world. These two ideas are counterintuitive, but backed by science.

• Sign forms at the top rather than the bottom. Signing at the top focuses the mind on the importance of honesty, said Business Professor Francesca Gino. In one study with 13,000 participants, people who signed at the top of an insurance form were more truthful about how many miles they drove.

• Have one line at supermarkets. In banks, a single line leads to all cash registers. Health Economics Professor Kate Baicker said it should work that way at supermarkets, too. “There's a whole branch of operations research that goes back, like, a hundred years about how to get throughput most efficiently through a system. If we all wait in one line, the average wait time is the same, but the variance goes away. Nobody wins, nobody loses.”

If you could, what small change would you make in the world?

photo by:  Supermarket checkout line © Sabelskaya - Dreamstime.com

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