Behavioural economics is based on the study of how psychological and social factors affect the economic decisions made by individuals in a group or society. Since the beginning of this century, and with the invaluable help of technology, these techniques have also been applied to try to change the behaviour of people around bad habits, such as overeating or smoking, or to start practices such as daily meditation.
This is the case of the company called StickK, founded in 2007 by two professors of economics of the American university of Yale, that offers services based on the so-called ‘commitment contracts’. For example, if a client has the goal of losing weight, he deposits a sum of money into the company’s account and must commit to sending weekly photos showing his weight to an ‘umpire’. If the client is losing weight, they can keep their money; if on the contrary he is not fulfilling its objective, StickK will donate the deposit money to non-profit organizations.
Doing this, the innovative web and APP for mobile devices creates a sort of win-win scenario, in which the person who wants to overcome a bad habit can recover the money deposited when he fulfills his objective, but in the case that he does not the money will go to a good cause and help others.
At this stage of the challenge is when the so-called ‘anti-charities’ come into play, ie NGOs or cultural associations with which the user does not sympathize at all, and therefore would not like his money to be donated to them. So someone who does not tolerate guns will go the extra mile to fulfill his mission if he knows that his money will go directly to the NRA or a Democrat will do his best not to indirectly finance the George W Bush Presidential Library.
With more than 10 years behind him, StickK has helped tens of thousands of individuals improve their lives.