The Pygmalion Effect Case Study

The Pygmalion Effect is a phenomenon in which a person’s performance rises or falls according to the expectations of their leader. This can be seen in the workplace when a boss sees an employee who is not fulfilling his or her potential. As the boss sets lofty but reachable goals for the employee and encourages him to reach for those goals, the employee most often responds to this positive influence. The trust and value imparted from the boss, helps to boost the confidence of the employee and he may even exceed expectations.

Now, let’s look at a pretty fascinating example of this aspect of human behavior in packaging. VanMoof, a Dutch bike manufacturer, was having serious problems with their expensive bike parts being damaged during transit. Their high-end bikes are equipped with fragile electronics like an anti-theft system and pedal assist technology that weren’t surviving the normal rough and tough handling of the delivery companies.

For a company that hopes to sell 90% of their bikes online by the end of the decade, this was a big problem. But, the solution was pretty simple. VanMoof began printing the image of a flatscreen TV on the outside of their shipping boxes. The result was an astounding drop in damages – somewhere around 80%. Complaints have all but become extinct.

What does this prove in our study of human factors? The couriers didn’t think they were expected to be super careful with a bike box – bikes are durable, so why use caution? However, slap an image of a TV on the box, and you’ve got a different story. The expectations of a company shipping TVs would be pretty high in regards to how their shippers handle the products. The couriers responded in kind. Proving that humans respond to the level of expectations around us.

Learn more about the human factors of packaging design at:

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