Positive Persuasion through Peer Pressure

Originally posted on Manage By Walking Around:

towel reuseWhat would get people to reuse their towels in hotel rooms?

The answer might surprise you, as it’s not saving the environment or saving money. People are more likely to reuse their hotel towels if they are told that everyone else is doing it.

This variant of the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ effect seems hard to believe but has been confirmed in a variety of scientific studies.  For example, researchers asked nearly 1000 Californians to predict which of four messages would be most successful at persuading them to conserve energy:

  1. conserving energy helps the environment
  2. conserving energy protects future societies
  3. conserving energy saves you money;
  4. many of your neighbors are already conserving energy.

Not surprisingly, respondents rated the fourth option as least likely to influence their behavior. However, in practice, the researchers found this was actually the most effective in changing behavior; nearly twice as strong…

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