Social pressure and hyperbolic discounting can improve physical health

South Africa

To combat obesity in individuals with sedentary jobs, researchers created a competition in which teams of employees competed to walk the most steps in a 6-week period. This competition included immediate feedback, incentives for walking more, and constant updating of a scoreboard. This capitalized on many behavioral ideas, including social norms and immediate incentives. During the competition, 70% of participants lost weight. Furthermore, most participants had positive feedback about the competition, suggesting that healthy behavior can come without tradeoffs.

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