People Want to be on the Bandwagon

 In Blog

Happy-Crowd SmallI just love information like this: A psychological phenomena that norms, not threats, cause people to act. People’s behavior is largely shaped by the behavior of those around them – what behavioral scientists call social norms.  In particular people are motivated by their desire to conform with the group, especially if it is a group with which they identify.  The article sites a British plan for tax collection that initially was all about penalties of non-payment that shifted to “over 94% of UK citizens pay their taxes on time.” They saw a huge improvement in tax collection using the social norm instead of a threat.  The article also commented on the change of one hotel chain that changed the towel reuse pitch from that of an environmental concern to “the majority of guest reuse towels” and they saw 26% more people start reusing towels over the previous call for action.  I chuckled when I read that this works in the other direction too.  The US IRS once laid out a plan to increase penalties because of the overwhelming growth in falsified tax returns – bad announcement for the social norm of falsifying returns and they found a 22% increase in false returns!  Be careful using the tool of social norms!  Source:  Harvard Business Review 2012 “98% of HBR users love this article” by Steve Martin.

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