Behavior change: How do you get people to do the right thing?

behavior change

What’s a simple way to cause behavior change?

Behavior change is not easy. But there’s a great TED talk that shows a simple way to influence people to do the right thing. And it leverages a principle we can all use in our daily lives.

Alex Laskey spoke about how we can use the psychology of behavior change to get people to reduce their energy consumption.

Grad students hung signs on people’s doorknobs, asking them to turn off their air-conditioning and turn on their fans. What varied was the message the signs used.

Which message do you think was most effective?

behavior change

Actually, none of them were.

Nobody paid attention. Nobody turned off their air conditioners.

But a fourth message did work:

behavior change

Bingo. Major changes.

“When surveyed, 77% of your neighbors said that they turn off their air conditioners and turn on their fans. Please join them.”

This is Social Proof at work. Robert Cialdini, author of the classic book Influence, explained it in my interview with him:

People will be likely to say yes to your request if you give them evidence that people just like them have been saying yes to it, too.

We don’t like to think that we’re influenced by other people’s behavior but we all are.

And one of the best ways to cause behavior change is to tap into that.

Keep it in mind next time you’re trying to convince someone to join your way of thinking.

Or perhaps I should say:

Use Social Proof to make yourself more persuasive. 77% of your neighbors are doing it.

Here’s the full TED talk:

More methods to influence others from Robert Cialdini here.

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About Eric Barker