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Nudge Theory: The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations

 

To the casual observer, it is chaos; commuters packed shoulder-to-shoulder amid the constant clatter of arriving and departing trains. But a closer look reveals something more beneath the surface: A station may be packed, yet commuters move smoothly along concourses and platforms. Platforms are a whirl of noisy activity, yet trains maintain remarkable on-time performance.

Rail stations, whether in Japan or elsewhere, are also great places to see “nudge theory” at work. Pioneered by behavioral economist Richard Thaler, who was awarded the 2017 Nobel Memorial Prize for his work, and Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein, the theory posits that gentle nudges can subtly influence people towards decisions in their own (or society’s) best interests, such as signing up for private pension schemes or organ donation.

When it come to passenger manipulation, what sets the stations of Japan apart from their counterparts is both the ingenuity behind their nudges and the imperceptible manner in which they are implemented. Japan’s nudges reflect a higher order of thinking. 

Japan has one of the highest suicide rates among OECD nations, and often, those taking their own lives do so by leaping from station platforms into the path of oncoming trains, with Japan averaging one such instance each day.

Operating on the theory that exposure to blue light has a calming effect on one’s mood, rail stations in Japan began installing these LED panels as a suicide-prevention measure in 2009. They are strategically located at the ends of each platform—typically the most-isolated and least-trafficked area, and accordingly, the point from which most platform jumps occur.

According to a study by researchers at the University of Tokyo published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2013, data analyzed over a 10-year period shows an 84 percent decline in the number of suicide attempts at stations where blue lights are installed.

Science-Based Weight Training – The Mission

Recommendation: Train to momentary muscular failure in order to recruit all possible muscle fibers. Do not train to a set number of repetitions.

Recommendation: Select a weight of 80%RM and do reps to failure, which is optimal for strength, muscular endurance, and bone density.

Recommendation: Lift slowly enough to maintain muscular tension. In extreme cases, this may be 10 seconds up, 10 down, though that doesn’t appear to be necessary. I use a cadence of 4–5 seconds up, same down.

Recommendation: Select your own rest interval for muscle growth. Use short rest intervals for cardiovascular conditioning.

Recommendation: Single set training appears to be as effective as multiple sets for muscle growth. There’s little scientific evidence for a recommendation as to frequency of training.

If I had to pick a single one of the above recommendations to emphasize, it would be intensity of effort, which appears to be the single most important aspect in attaining growth in strength and size.

What my ideal phone would be like

4 min read

Full disclosure first: I'm an iPhone fanatic.
I've been a mac user for 2 years and I honestly couldn't imagine using anything else now. The link between the iPhone and the Mac is seamless, if hard wired! I can honestly say that the iPhone 3G and now the 3GS are the best phones I've ever owned and used.

However! There are lots of things that annoy me about the iPhone.

1. The OS has taken a long time to get to where it is today and it's still locked down. Why should I have to jailbreak to get functionality that comes as standard on other handsets?
2. While I think Apple are exceptional at what they do, they are also total control freaks, which really annoys me as a consumer. I buy the hardware, I should be able to do what I want with it.
3. I have a love/hate relationship with the App store.
4. In order to backup, I have to sync with iTunes which requires the data cable. This isn't a problem for me as I download lots of podcasts which require syncing via cable.
WAIT hang on, that's another bug bear of mine.
5. The iPod app doesn't wirelessly download your podcasts on the fly. You can download over wifi, but only one at a time. My Nokia N95 was able to do that task.
6. The iPhone should be able to backup and sync over 3G or wifi even if you have to buy MobileMe.
7. The iPhone isn't that easy to use. Trust me, novices will find the entire ordeal troublesome and over complicated. I'm referring to those who only text and make calls on their current handset, of which there are many.
The iPhone essentially requires users to modify their use of a mobile phone and learn to sync their phone to their computer and to interface with the device via desktop software. This is a good thing however, and more people should learn to do this with their existing 'dumb' phones if only to avoid loosing data.

So what exactly is my ideal phone?
Hardware
At least 3.2MP camera - I really do not need more mega-pixels on a phone, but I do want a good sensor. A flash would be handy.
Expandable memory via MicroSD card or suitable alternative.
The size and shape of the iPhone, perfect for my hands and a big enough screen to watch films on the plane/train!
15 hour battery life from constant use. I can recharge at multiple opportunities throughout the day, but 15 hours of constant use is enough to get me through any arduous day or to most destinations.
3.5mm headphone jack.
Touchscreen

OS/Software

I'm getting very excited about Android. As well as being an Apple fanboy, I'm a total Google love child. My life is in constant sync with gmail/calendar/contacts/tasks and therefore Android is just begging to be tried.

Android is now maturing as a platform and being released on many new handsets and is therefore getting more and more support. Developers are going to port iPhone Apps and many developers will choose to develop for Android ahead of other platforms given the potential size of the Android user base. Therefore by having an Android device you will have the widest choice of apps available.

OS X is very nice, but the way Apple control the operating system always leaving me wanting more and therefore I will tire of it very soon.

Windows Mobile 6.5: let's just say that it would take a miracle for me to buy a winmo device - it's just not for me.

Network
A really important consideration for me given my experience on O2. I would ideally buy the handset unlocked for use any network, which would then allow me to buy a suitable 30 day sim only tariff. I would require a network with decent 3G coverage.

To conclude, my ideal phone would be of the hardware spec above running android on either Vodafone or Orange.

Of the handsets currently available I would only be tempted to ditch my iPhone 3GS for the HTC Hero which is a capable handset.

I suspect that my dream device is only around the corner in the shape of the rumoured google phone, but in the mean time I will continue to 'make do' with my 3GS as my ideal phone.