Dan Ariely, the popular author and behavioral economist, spent years recovering from 3rd degree burns on 70% of his body. His treatments were extremely painful. The nurses removed his bandages daily to soak him in a disinfectant bath using the “rip-off-the-Band-Aid-as-quickly-as-possible” method. I use that same method with my kids. Best to get it over with as quickly as possible.
Years later, Ariely wanted to know if this made sense. So he performed a study (he is a behavioral economist after all) and guess what? The nurses had it all wrong. Turns out it’s significantly preferable to minimize the intensity of the pain by going slower, even if that means drawing out the process. Oops.
He went back to the hospital to present his findings, certain that the nurses would immediately change their approach. They didn’t react quite the way he expected.
But how the nurses did react tells us something interesting and important — something that also explains a key reason why the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been such a great success.