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Compact Contract

Released March 24th, 2009 under | Leave a response | Trackback | Comments feed
Sajid Sadi and Marcelo Coelho

In short, commitments made easier. We all make promises to ourselves: lose 10 pounds, save more, exercise more. And yet, it is far too easy to make such promises and then find a thousand excuses to break them. Drawing on the fact that we are much less likely to make a social promise and then break it, Compact Contract is a tool for making small “contracts” with our friends and family.

Compact Contract is literally a contract in the form of a two-part greeting card, with a built-in reminder of the time period within which we have promised to act. The user fills out the cards as one would normally fill out a contract (emphasizing the social contract), give themselves a deadline, and then keep one part and mail the other to someone who will become the social check on the promise. By doing so, the user is made to share a promise, and assign an overseer, thus increasing compliance significantly. Additionally, the deadline converts the promise from an infinite-term to a limited-term task — something the human mind is well-suited to handling. Finally, we note that if people have a month to do it, they will put it off. To combat this effect, the cards give active reminder about time left, as well as enforcing the deadline and acknowledging the check that will be made by the keeper of the promise, thus keeping the task in the foreground.

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