Fun Theory

Fun Theory: The Troll in the Library Return Box


It’s summer.  We are visiting the library a lot more than we normally do during the school year which is fantastic, except for the returning of the library books.  My boys have excitement when it comes to selecting books, taking them home and reading them, but no one ever wants to engage in the process of returning the library books.  That all changed one afternoon when we experienced a “living troll” in the library return box. Whoever was working behind the library desk that day, decided to have a little fun.  Every time a book came down the chute, he either made a funny sound or comment— “Ouch that hurt.” “Hey, I’m trying to sleep in here.” “What do you think you are doing?” These comments had my boys doubled over laughing.  They called me over, “Mommy there’s a troll living in the library box.” Another book down the chute, another funny comment. Who knew returning library books could be so much fun?

Now my boys fight over who gets to return the library books and even though we’ve only ever encountered our “library troll” once, there is always the chance he might return.  Even if he never returns, the simple memory makes this chore more fun for us all!

This experience got me thinking about how a little novelty and fun goes a long ways. Our library troll became the topic of our dinner conversation. The boys have surely told everyone they know about their experience.  I was intrigued by this so much that I did a little research and it turns out Volkswagen developed what they called the “Fun Theory” back in 2009. It’s really a simple concept. The idea is “if things are more fun, they are better.”  If you are given two identical activities, all things being equal but one of the activities was more fun which would be preferred? Naturally the one that was more fun. If this is the case, then it begs the question “Why aren’t we trying to make everything more fun?”  

Volkswagen went on to test their “fun theory” to see if they could change human behavior simply by making the behavior they wanted to engage people in more fun.  Here are two examples of their fun theory tests:

Is there something you want to encourage students, teachers or even parents to do? How might you make it more fun?  I’m committing to bringing more fun to my work and I hope you will too. I would love to hear if you have any success with the “Fun Theory.”