An article was published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine about how offering money to give up smoking can significantly affect human behavior.
Employees at CVS were involved in several different types of smoking quitting technique, all giving out a prize money as an incentive with only one exception – which only provided guidance and help towards terminating this habit, and also resources like Nicotine patches and other recognized and established remedies.
A total of 2,538 CVS workers had participated in these tests. In one program, the subjects had to hand out a certain amount of money just before they begun. They will lose the sum if they take up smoking in a specific and mentioned time period. But if they did not resume smoking they will get their cash back as well as a financial reward. Other implemented programs just had the reward system and not an initial cash deposit that was made by the participants.
Approximately 14 % people accepted the deposit program, while almost 90% of the people whom were given the reward program as a choice took it. The results were staggering. More than 15.7% of the subjects participating in just the reward program had gave up smoking after a six month time-frame, while for the deposit based initiative the result was 10.2 percent after six months. These numbers were seriously thrown out balance by the great percentage of subjects that actually agreed with the deposit program.
Dr. Halpern, who is an associate in this smoking cessation program, explained that noticing the great number of people taking part just for the reward program, he was very shocked to observe so few did eventually quit smoking after six months.
Human behavioral pattern points to the fact that people are more open to change long time habits in situations when they have a worry of losing money, compared to just winning some.
Harvard law professor Cass R Sunstein mentioned that these results can modify the way we perceive human behavior. He added that these programs can be used on people which are having addictive problems such as alcoholism, but also anger issues.
Even if success rate is low, scientists are still hopeful with the latest results, after they got far better percentages than most of the traditional quitting treatments and will pursue the techniques in order to increase the numbers.
Image Source: Earth Times