Signage as a tool for behavioral change: Direct and indirect routes to understanding the meaning of a sign

Julia Meis, Yoshihisa Kashima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Signs, prompts, and symbols are a common means to change behavior in our society. Understanding the psychological mechanisms by which signage influences behavior is a critical first step to achieve the desired outcome. In the current research, we propose a theoretical model of sign-to-behavior process. The model suggests that when one encounters a sign, it is encoded to construct an action representation (comprehension process), which is then acted on unless its enactment is inhibited (decision process). We test the implications of the model in two studies. In support of our hypothesis, for unfamiliar signs, clarity of purpose predicts perceived effectiveness of a sign; however, for familiar signs, clarity of purpose does not matter. Insights gained from the studies will help to design effective signs. Practical implications of the model are discussed, and future research directions are outlined.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0182975
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes

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