Note: analysis based on my Behavioral Orchestration and Analysis framework explained here.

Source

The White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team conducted this experiment and reported on its results in their 2015 report.

Goal(s)

To see if certifying to tell the truth on an administrative form was impacted by having the signature box at the start of the end of the form.

Changes implemented

Choice Architecture

Contextual persuasion and copy elements

  • The team tested moving the signature box from the bottom of the form to the top.

Choice ergonomics and usability; user experience

Options and possibilities structuring

Choice commitment

Results

From the report:

The signature box was effective; the Federal Government collected an additional $1.59 million in fees within a single quarter as a result of the box. The median self-reported sales amount was $445 higher for vendors signing at the top of the form compared with those vendors who were not required to make this confirmation.

Comments

Excerpt from the report detailing the intervention:

BST collaborated with the General Services Administration (GSA) to improve the accuracy of self-reported fees and collections. When the Government purchases goods and services from vendors under certain contracts, those vendors are required to do two things: first, to report those sales to the Government; and second, to pay to the Government a small fraction of their reported sales as an administrative fee, known as the Industrial Funding Fee (IFF).

To promote more accurate self-reporting of the sales and, consequently, more accurate collections of IFF, SBST and GSA introduced a required signature box at the top of an online payment form for a random sample of vendors. The signature box asked vendors to confirm the truth and accuracy of the information about to be reported, as shown in Figure 10. Research indicates that requiring users to sign their names to confirm the accuracy of self-reported statements can reduce self-reporting errors if the signature is requested at the beginning of a form. Interestingly, signature prompts at the end of a form seem to have no such effect.

The signature box was effective; the Federal Government collected an additional $1.59 million in fees within a single quarter as a result of the box. The median self-reported sales amount was $445 higher for vendors signing at the top of the form compared with those vendors who were not required to make this confirmation.

Based on this pilot result, GSA is permanently updating the online form to incorporate a signature box. SBST will also explore opportunities to apply the signature box intervention to other government contexts in which financial information is self-reported.

This experiment was inspired by the following academic study.

2015-10-21T14:52:26+00:00

About the Author:

Julien Le Nestour
Applied behavioral scientist & international consultant — I am using the results and latest advances from the behavioral sciences—specifically behavioral economics—to help companies solve strategic issues. I am working with both start-ups and Fortune 500 groups, and across industries, though I have specific domain knowledge in banking, asset management, B2B and consumer IT, SAAS and e-commerce industries.

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