Handwashing

Science Friday interviewed a researcher who looked into how various bits of signage might increase the incidence of hand washing.  They were able to get a large sample by setting up shop in a rest stop.  A nice example of A/B testing.

Here is the key table from their paper.

The table has one section for men and another for women. What they put on the sign is shown in the first column and what lever they thought they were pulling is shown in the second column. In some cases I have my doubts that the statement was pulling the lever they think it was. The last column shows how effective the sign was compared to doing nothing.

Soap Ratio Message Domain Relative Increase From Control Condition % P
Men
0.312 Blank Blank control (Ref)
0.321 Blank Blank control (Ref)
0.325 Toilet germs soap hands clean Knowledge activation 2.7 .488
0.328 Sticky hands? Get that soapy smoothness Comfort 3.6 .35
0.331 Water doesn’t kill germs, soap does Knowledge of risk 4.4 .267
0.337 Don’t be a dope, wash with soap Status/Identity 6.5 .09
0.338 Wsah yuor hnads wiht saop Knowledge activation 6.7 .065
0.339 Shake hands confidently—Wash with soap Norms/Affiliation 6.9 .09
0.339 Wash your hands with soap Positive control 7.0 .067
0.341 See sink? Use soap Cue 7.5 .073
0.341 Washing hands with soap avoids 47% of disease Knowledge of risk 7.6 .033
0.342 Toilet—sink—think- soap Cue 7.9 .029
0.346 Soap it off or eat it later Disgust 9.3 .012
0.347 Wash your hands with soap Positive control 9.4 .017
0.349 Don’t be a dirty soap dodger Status/Identity 10.3 .013
0.350 Don’t take the loo with you—wash with soap Disgust 10.3 .005
0.354 Soap adds a fresh touch Comfort 11.7 .004
0.355 Is the person next to you washing with soap? Norms/Affiliation 12.1 .001
Women
0.620 Soap adds a fresh touch Comfort –4.8 .143
0.648 Blank Blank control (Ref)
0.654 Blank Blank control (Ref)
0.662 Toilet—sink—think- soap Cue 1.7 .562
0.663 Soap it off or eat it later Disgust 1.9 .565
0.670 Shake hands confidently—wash with soap! Norms/Affiliation 2.9 .375
0.680 Sticky hands? Get that soapy smoothness! Comfort 4.4 .173
0.683 Don’t be a dope, wash with soap Status/Identity 4.9 .155
0.691 See sink? Use soap Cue 6.2 .078
0.694 Washing hands with soap avoids 47% of disease Knowledg of risk 6.5 .051
0.702 Don’t be a dirty soap dodger Status/Identity 7.7 .014
0.705 Don’t take the loo with you—wash with soap Disgust 8.3 .013
0.707 Wash your hands with soap Positive control 8.6 .015
0.709 Wsah yuor hnads wiht saop Knowledge activation 8.9 .007
0.709 Wash your hands with soap Positive control 8.9 .005
0.714 Toilet germs soap hands clean Knowledge activation 9.7 .004
0.722 Is the person next to you washing with soap? Norms/Affiliation 10.9 .001
0.723 Water doesn’t kill germs, soap does Knowledge of risk 11.1 .001

I was bemused that the study authors thought it notable that what works on one group isn’t what works on another group (i.e. men v.s. women). I very much doubt the authors are unaware of the vast literature on the practices of discriminatory marketing. Presumably in a country like England which has deployed Orwellian social monitoring they should be able to customize the message based individual profiling. Web advertisers certainly try.

Experimental Pretesting of Hand-Washing Interventions
in a Natural Setting
Gaby Judah, BA, Robert Aunger, PhD, MSc, Wolf-Peter Schmidt MD, MSc, Susan Michie, DPhil, CPsychol, Stewart Granger, PhD, and
Val Curtis, PhD, MSc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.