I’ve passed through Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport a few times in my travels. Unbeknownst to me, I have been experimented on each time…
The flies in the men’s-room urinals of the Amsterdam airport have been enshrined in the academic literature on economics and psychology. The flies — images of flies, actually — were etched in the porcelain near the urinal drains in an experiment in human behavior.
After the flies were added, “spillage” on the men’s-room floor fell by 80 percent. “Men evidently like to aim at targets,” said Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago, an irreverent pioneer in the increasingly influential field of behavioral economics.
That’s pretty cool. I never knew this. This is the sort of thinking we need more of in tackling user-facing security problems. The biggest challenges aren’t math- people are the weak point in any system. If we can nudge people into doing the right thing, in any discipline, and amuse them along the way, we’ll have done the world a service.