The Destructive Influence of Imaginary Peers

We humans irrationally think we’re rational. We think that we decide how to behave by weighing the pros and cons. In reality, the strongest influence on our decisions is the example of the people around us ….

Telling people to go against their peer group never works. A better strategy is the reverse: give people credible evidence that among their peers, good behavior is the social norm. …

It seems that almost anything you would want to nag people about can be more effectively done by instead telling them how much everyone else is doing the right thing. If you want young people to vote, don’t tell them how many people aren’t voting. Tell them how many are. [cont.]

Tina Rosenberg, New York Times