Human-Computer Interaction & Medicine

Encouraging Blood Donation

Encouraging higher levels of blood donation using subtle social cues.

Blood Donation


Project Manager, Quantitative Researcher

Research Background
Many recent psychology studies have demonstrated that increasing the salience of social norms can encourage people to change their behavior. One particular norm envisioned by Robert Cialdini, a provincial norm is a social norm that specifically pertains to a person’s immediate surroundings (e.g., a train station, your new girlfriend’s house, etc.). The concept examines the extent to which our immediate surroundings can affect our behavior. Cialdini showed that provincial norms can influence hotel guests to reuse their bathroom towel more often; for my senior thesis, I upped the ante by investigating whether they could influence students to donate more blood.

Research Protocol
I asked participants to complete a task, and then reported back their “perceptual style.” This determination served as an arbitrary group assignment, which has been shown to stronglt impact the influence of provincial norms. Then, I reported to participants people with their “perceptual style” had either donated more, the same, or less blood in the ongoing blood drive. Finally, we asked if they would be donating blood in the upcoming drive.

Research Results
For this study, we found no significant difference in reported or actual blood donation rates. I suspect that because blood donation incurs such a high cost to the participants, it may have been too significant of a task to attempt to influence. Additionally, because relatively few people donate blood, we had a smaller sample size from which to search for significance.