May 15, 2007
12:00 Noon - 2:00 pm
Russell Senate Office Building, Room 325
Which principle of persuasion do people most underestimate in judging the extent of its influence over them? Which principle of persuasion do communicators most underestimate in judging the extent of its influence over their audiences? How can this principle be employed to move people toward environmentally positive choices, by way of example? How has this principle been used inadvertently by public service communicators to produce the opposite of what they intended? Can one’s choice of credit card reveal anything about the cardholder’s likelihood to make certain kinds of environmentally-sensitive lifestyle choices?
Dr. Anthony Socci, Senior Science Fellow, American Meteorological Society
Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, Regents’ Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
PowerPoint HTML Version
Compelling Communications: An Untapped Power Source for Action
Social norms, which refer to what most people do (descriptive social norms) and what most people approve (injunctive social norms), are remarkably powerful in directing human action. Equally remarkable is how little note people take of this power at two critical decision points: when, as observers they decide how to interpret the causes of their own actions and when, as communicators they decide how to influence the actions of others.
Studies in several environmental contexts (e.g., home energy conservation, household recycling, hotel conservation efforts) show that (1) energy users severely underestimate the role of social norms in guiding their energy usage, (2) persuasive communications that employ social norm-based appeals for pro-environmental behavior are superior to those that employ traditional appeals, and (3) even though these highly effective social norm-based appeals are nearly costless—requiring no large technological fixes, tax incentives, or regulatory changes—they are rarely (though sometimes mistakenly) delivered.
Dr. Robert B. Cialdini is Regents’ Professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, where he has also been named W. P. Carey Distinguished Professor of Marketing. He has taught at Stanford University and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has been elected president of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award of the Society for Consumer Psychology, the Donald T. Campbell Award for Distinguished Contributions to Social Psychology, and the (inaugural) Peitho Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Science of Social Influence.
Among Dr. Cialdini’s 175 publications is his book Influence: Science and Practice, which was the result of a three-year program of study into the reasons that people comply with requests in everyday settings and which has sold over a million copies in numerous editions and twenty-two languages.
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