95% of Americans support organ donation. And yet, only 48% of Americans are registered organ donors. What can we do to get more Americans to register as organ donors?
Hypothesis: We predicted that the use of injunctive norms would increase donor registration rates. While most social norms marketing has focused on descriptive norms (what other people do), that may be ineffective when so few Americans are registered organ donors. Instead, we chose to explore the impact of injunctive norms (what people think should be done).
Experiment: We partnered with a company to test whether adding social proof messaging of the injunctive norm affects registration rate among their employees. In the control condition, subjects received an email asking them to register as an organ donor. In the treatment condition, subjects received an email with the same language, with an added line mentioning that 95% of Americans support organ donation.
Results: We found that those in the treatment condition were almost four times more likely to register for organ donation than those in the control condition were.
Application: Social proof messaging can be an extremely powerful tool even for important decisions such as whether to become an organ donor or not. This study demonstrated that injunctive norms can work as social proof messaging, which stands in contrast to the more common use of descriptive norm social proof messaging. Because there are many times when more people think it is good to do something than actually do it, this study revealed a useful technique for such situations.