We’re more motivated to complete complex tasks when they are 'chunked' into manageable pieces.

Chunking is the widely accepted theory that lots of small bits of information are easier to digest than one long piece of prose.

It makes language easier to understand, decreasing effort and making it feel more straightforward. In turn increasing our motivation to read, or complete a task.

One example we can all relate to is trying to remember a phone number. It’s much easier to recall 9849523260, if we chunk it into: 98 495 232 60.

The evidence it works

In 1956, George Miller found that most people can hold about seven short chunks of information in their short-term memory. Meaning the human brain is limited to what it can retain and recall.

So, if we want people to take in more information, it’s better to split it up, or use chunking

We may not always be able to stick to the magic number seven. But we can create and split content so it’s as concise and easy to understand as possible.

Where it fits in our behavioural model – The ‘means’ METRIC

The three core principles of our Behavioural Model is that every behaviour has to have a motivation, trigger and the means.

The means are the resources to get what you want. This isn’t just money – choosing and buying also costs time and effort, thought and worry.

In theory, the means depend on what’s in short supply. So if we’re short of time, we’ll spend money. If we don’t want to take a risk, we’ll invest more thought. If everyone else is doing one thing, we’d rather join the queue and spend time, than feel like the odd one out.

But our judgement of these things is often flawed. For example, we can only judge numbers in comparison with other numbers and we’re inclined to not waste energy, so the easier something seems the more likely we are to choose it (like joining the queue). Which forms the basis of our Behavioural Model.

The means model is split into six different sections: Money, Effort, Time, Risk, Individuality, and Conscious thought. Which handily spells METRIC.

The chunking bias falls under the effort category. Put simply, we’re more likely to do something that appears to involve less effort.

How we've used it with clients

AUTOTRADER

For AutoTrader, we needed to explain to vehicle retailers that paying Auto Trader’s premium price represents a good investment for their business.

We turned their existing letter, from a long continuous prose into an engaging infographic style letter, leveraging several key behavioural biases including the chunking bias to ensure we could communicate a number of messages in a single piece of communication but still remain clear & digestible.

Read the full case study here

Before

After

Other great examples

The chunking bias to help keep messages clear and simple

The government are using chunking in their marketing. From ‘Stay at home, protect the NHS’ to ‘Hands, face, space’ it’s been used to help us navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chunking
Hands Face Space

The chunking bias to making paying online as easy as possible

As social media use has risen, our attention span has plummeted. So, a lot of brands have turned to featuring shorter, more concise content we can absorb quickly. Klarna has done exactly this, to make paying for things online as simple as possible.

Klarna uses chunking bias
Klarna uses chunking bias

What is Behavioural Science?

To find out more about how our behavioural model makes marketing more effective, get in touch now.

By James Ballinger

Board Director