Shaun Tomson, a successful businessman who was once a world champion surfer, received the worst phone call ever. His 15 year old son had accidentally asphyxiated himself in an attempt to get high. His son’s death led Thomson to think deeply about the dangerous choices – drugs, alcohol and other risky behaviors – that teenagers make.
He also reflected on what decades on his surf board had taught him about life – lessons that helped him deal with his son’s death and ended up in his first book, Surfer’s Code: 12 Simple Lessons for Riding Through Life.
As a motivational speaker, he now teaches teenagers and adults about making positive, thoughtful decisions. In an exercise from his second book, The Code: The Power of ‘I Will,’ he instructs people to write their own version of the surfer’s code – 12 promises to themselves beginning with the words ‘I will.’
He told the Jewish Journal:
“When you sit down and just write 12 promises to yourself…they develop force and power. When you put ‘I will’ in front of them, it’s a commitment. It’s a bond between you and the future…You’re not going to make a promise to yourself and flake out of it.”
I will vote in the leadership election.
The surfer has the science right. When you make a promise, you create “a bond between you and the future” – you and your better self, the one who does the right thing. This is why breaking promises feels so wrong. We have an inner need to ensure that our beliefs (about ourselves) and our behaviors are consistent.
“Asking individuals to commit to voting will increase their likelihood of doing so because they do not want to suffer the negative feelings that can result from behaving inconsistently with their initial answer.” We want “to avoid holding dissonant or inconsistent cognitions.”
President Obama’s campaign team were familiar with this behavioral compulsion and used it to their advantage. They asked voters to complete a Pledge to Vote form on postcards and websites. The rest is history.
We know running your organization’s votes and elections is one of many hats you wear. To make your job easier, we’re giving you a tool to help you leverage behavioral science on behalf of your elections. As part of your election email marketing campaign, our new Commit to Vote tool sends graphic-rich emails to your eligible voters asking for their pledge to vote. When voters choose to “commit to vote” they will be asked if they would like to set a reminder to vote. If they request a reminder, they have the option to select when and how they would like to be reminded.
In scientific field experiments, voters who committed to vote had a 5% higher turnout rate than the control group, and those who also received reminder to vote had a 10% higher turnout rate. If you’d like to read more about the effectiveness of Commit to Vote campaigns and tactics you can use, take a few minutes to read one of previous posts: