In a recent blog post on Scientific American, Kristen Berman and Wendy De La Rosa made the radical proposal that we move tax day up by a month—from April 15 to March 15. In support of this proposal, they cite research by Suzanne Shu and Ayelet Gneezy showing that the longer a deadline is, the more likely we are to procrastinate, even when the deadline is for claiming a free benefit.
In particular, people are more likely to claim a benefit when there is a deadline than when there is no deadline, and when there is a shorter deadline than when there is a longer one. Therefore, while it’s tempting to think that giving your audience greater flexibility in responding to your ask will make them more likely to comply, this research shows that the opposite is the case. Just as constraints can lead to greater creativity, they can also lead to greater compliance.