Social Engineering and Taking the Stairs

Oh those clever, clever Swedes. Some smart folks from a Swedish think tank (I think–my Swedish is not strong) devised a way to motivate people to take the stairs:

I really like approaches like this, where we use natural human behaviour to motivate better outcomes. I wonder, though, whether the piano stairs have long term stickiness. Won’t the gimmick wear off and people will return to taking the escalator?


  1. I would think that some people would go back to the escalator, but others would form a new habit of taking the stairs.

    I also note it’s a pretty short staircase. The escalators to the Tube in London are sometimes hundreds of steps long. No way I’m taking the stairs there.


  2. The problem I see with this is that it would require a lot of upkeep. Those keys are going to break down and get dirty and unless the maintainers are diligent about keeping them operational and pristine this could eventually be seen as an annoyance.

    I used to volunteer at Science World and remember how the stepping piano was always needing repairs near the end of its life.

    Also: some subway stop in New York had some installation that mapped motion to music in one spot on the platform. Don’t remember which stop but it was really cool and not intrusive.

  3. NYC subway motion detector/music installation is at 34th St. station on the N/R/Q/W line. Doesn’t really train you in any behavior, though. Or I don’t _think_ it does!

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