The potential thieves

“I’m going to steal this ball for my niece.” That is exactly the thought I had last Monday when I was playing putt putt with my sister and her kids during a visit to Chicago.

I’m 36 years old. I’m a professional who could certainly afford to gift — not steal — a bright green colored putt putt ball. But I still had the irrational thought that it would be easier to slip the ball in my pocket. Yes, stealing is wrong and what kind of example would I be setting? But that isn’t what popped into my head at that moment.

When I walked towards the gate, I realized many other folks must have had similar thoughts.

There, directly in front of me, was a Price Is Right Plinko-style game advertising a “Free Game” if, when you dropped your ball into the shoot, it fell into the free game slots.

Theft deterrent: Plinko-Style Game

Theft deterrent: Plinko-Style Game

The thought of stealing the ball quickly vanished in light of the opportunity to win a free game. Anika, Alex and I ran over to it, dropping our balls in fingers crossed that we landed the free game — which, of course, we didn’t.

Humans, we’re simple creatures. We can irrationally choose to do things that aren’t in our best interest. But thoughtful design can persuade us to do things we know are right.

Making things fun is one way to push us in the proper direction. For another great example, check out the piano stairs, which encouraged transit riders to walk stairs rather than take the escalator simply by making it more fun.

How can you infuse a little more fun into your campaigns to persuade people to take part?