Could the simple act of signing our name on a piece of paper influence the decisions we make afterwards – even if those decisions are unrelated to the document we have signed?
the act of signing our name has a priming effect that serves to unconsciously remind us of our identity and as such can influence subsequent decisions related to our identity. In fact they go on to report several potential implications after providing a signature and they suggest that very few consumers would anticipate that signing their name in one setting might increase subsequent consumption in another.
They also point out some potentially novel interventions that businesses could potentially use to influence customer behavior. For example asking customers to sign their name after completing a survey, entering a prize draw, or enrolling in a loyalty program could lead to greater engagement in consumers who identify closely with that business’s products and services.
I wonder though whether there is potentially an even more significant application of this signature effect.
…In the light of this signature effect one wonders whether people would be influenced to complete job application forms, insurance claims, tax returns and other such documents more honestly, accurately and completely if they were required to sign the declaration at the start of the document and not, as is the more usual practice, at the end.
Robert Cialdini is the author of Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive and Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.