Assistant Professor – University of Minnesota

It’s important that information providers consider how and when they deliver information intended to prompt changes in behavior. Providing information to someone when they are sitting on their couch at home is very different than when they are operating a complicated piece of machinery (e.g., driving a car on a freeway). Often there is a perceived minimal cost to providing information, but if the information is delivered at a time when one’s focus needs to be elsewhere, the costs can be considerable. For instance, distracting a driver with unnecessary information can result in increased driving errors and accidents. Policy makers need to consider the trade-off of providing information at a time when action can be taken, but not distracting the individual from more pressing concerns. Finding the right time and place is important.