Non-Judgmental Designs Help People Break Their Bad Habits

Non-Judgmental Designs Help People Break Their Bad Habits

Simple devices that can improve willpower and other desirable actions.

Ross Brooks
  • 20 march 2014

German designer Matthias Laschke and his colleagues at the Folkwang University of Arts have come up with a more enjoyable way to deal with bad habits. His “pleasurable troublemakers” draw on behavioural science research to achieve the best results. The Chocolate Machine, Shower Calendar, and the Never Hungry Caterpillar are just some of the interesting ideas he has come up with.

The Chocolate Machine is designed to improve willpower, it’s a simple dispenser that presents you with a chocolate ball every hour, which leaves you with the two choices. Eat the chocolate, obviously, or put the chocolate back into the dispenser so that it can be represented to you later. Laschke’s research showed that people who used the dispenser for to weeks found it easier to resist the ball over time.

Shower Calendar on the other hand, is a real-time display that pits you against other people. It compares water consumption amongst you and your housemates, with the aim of encouraging you to shower for less time, and save more water.

If you’re more interested in saving electricity, then the Never Hungry Caterpillar might be better. It attaches to the power chord of your TV, and writhes about when the set goes into standby. To put the caterpillar to sleep requires that you turn off the TV completely, saving more energy, and money in the process.

All of Laschke’s devices are effective at changing your habits, but remain fun, and more importantly, non-judgemental while doing so. They are all prototypes, but the designer would like to see them in the hands of real people, so that they can make a real difference in the world.

Shower Calendar


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