2 Minute Prosody Changes the World


Due to population growth, the reduction of medical costs has become a current issue around the world.

The problem of population growth in modern times has caused various problems in global society as a whole, and it is always taken up as an issue at UN meetings. What is interesting about today’s demographic trends is that future estimates of the aging rate by region show that the aging of the population is expected to progress rapidly not only in developed regions where aging has progressed so far, but also in developing regions (Reference). In particular, the aging of the population is remarkable in Japan, and the control of total medical expenditures has been pointed out as an issue, especially in Japan. In this blog (reference), as a continuation of the previous article, I will introduce research that could be a breakthrough in Japan’s social problems being researched at the “Tonomachi International Strategic Center King Skyfront”.

< Tonomachi King Skyfront Research Building>

(Reference: Photo by the author)

As mentioned above, in response to the problem of aging, which has become a common global problem, many countries have made efforts to reduce total medical expenditures. For example, it was tried to increase out-of-pocket costs for patients, and to give financial bonuses to doctors who were able to reduce medical costs by providing fewer medical services if they were doctors (reference). It has been pointed out that various financial incentives implemented to reduce medical costs are counterproductive in the medical field (reference).

In particular, the field of medicine and health is one of the fields in which applied research on behavioral economics as described above has been actively conducted. Based on the seemingly irrational characteristics of human decision-making, it has been hoped that it may be possible to explain why people are unable to carry out medically recommended prevention and treatment on their own, and why people sometimes actively take choices that are not medically recommended.

The Limits of Social Sciences and Health Economics in the Medical Field

However, given this situation, which can be said to be the limit of the social sciences, what kind of approach should be used to promote behavior change in order to break through the current problems? As a breakthrough in answering these questions, the United States is currently conducting research on “changing people’s behavior through theater” in a way that is tailored to Japanese culture.

< University of California, Davis, where preventive treatment with theater is being studied>

(Reference: U-Labo)

The purpose of health economics, which is a fusion of the social and natural sciences, is to “calculate the contrast (cost-effectiveness) between the inputs and advantages of medical services and present the results to society.” From the viewpoint of health economics, various studies are being conducted at King Skyfront as an effort to find a breakthrough.

One of them is an experiment to change lifestyle through theater. It is a method widely used in the United States, and experiments are currently underway in a way that suits the culture of Japan. Specifically, they form a group and each person plays a different version of themselves from their own role in their daily lives. In addition, a time limit of 2 minutes is set, and this length is set as the limit of time that can be concentrated. In this way, the aim is to encourage behavior change in everyday life through statements and actions based on thought processes that differ from one’s own in a short period of time. This is called “de-mechanization,” and it allows us to correct our lifestyle habits and become aware of thought processes that are usually suppressed unconsciously.

<Design of Embodiment>

(Reference: bit.ly/3TquyM2)

In Japan today, it is estimated that improving lifestyle habits will lead to a one-third reduction in medical costs (reference). If research on “behavior change through theater” progresses and is implemented in society, it will be applied to preventive treatment such as lifestyle habits, and it may be a solution to the latent problems of Japan’s aging society. On the other hand, this approach to theater is closely linked to physicality, suggesting an essential approach to solving latent social problems. Theater is just one way to do it, and the pursuit of embodiment, which is talked about in a wide range of fields from artificial intelligence (AI) to psychology, may become the key to modern society and human society in the future. It is a development that should continue to pay close attention to the trends of King Skyfront to see what kind of answer Japan, as an advanced country with challenges, will come up with to the common problems of mankind.

Special Envoy for collaboration with the UN, Shugo Iwasaki