Encouraging Distancing (10-21-20)

Researchers investigated how to encourage people to maintain desired interpersonal distances via signage. Guchait, Do, and Wang found (study published in The Service Industries Journal) that “Despite guidelines plastered on the walls and floors of grocery and retail stores encouraging customers to maintain six-feet of physical distance, many do not. . . . negativity and anthropomorphism, or attributing human characteristics to nonhuman objects . . . improve the persuasiveness of those appeals. . . . adding intimidating human attributes to the otherwise invisible coronavirus, such as a scary red face with long sharp teeth and tentacles, significantly strengthens that message.. . . preventive messaging emphasized potential costs and negative outcomes: If you don’t maintain physical distance, you could get infected and endanger your life. In contrast, promotive messaging highlighted potential benefits and positive outcomes: Maintaining physical distance protects you from infection and secures your life. . . . ‘Preventive language was significantly more effective . . . because people are persuaded by loss language, especially in high-risk, health-related situations. . . .’ said Guchait,”

“How Fear Encourages Physical Distancing During Pandemic.”  2020.  Press release, University of Houston, https://uh.edu/news-events/stories/2020/october-2020/10212020-hilton-covid-study.php