Insights from research at HEC Lausanne-UNIL – Given most individuals’ desire to conform to other people’s behavior, social influence is frequently used as a driver of behavior change in public policies and to adapt organizational culture. However, the research carried out by Prof. Charles Efferson, HEC Lausanne (UNIL) and his co-authors shows that this mechanism may have its limitations.
Whether you are a senior executive, a policymaker in government or decision-maker, changing the behavior of a group of people – either citizens or employees – can be extremely complicated and challenging. Social influence and the spillover effect are hypothesized to be a remarkably effective and inexpensive way of changing behaviors within the population, in areas such as energy conservation, domestic violence, smoking or alcohol consumption.
While, in theory, working with a small section of the population to change behavior then spreads the new behavior to the whole of the population based on a ripple effect, is it really the case in practice?
Are we on the wrong track if we imagine that just because individual people seem willing to conform to a specific behavior, it is possible to assume that a ripple effect will drive behavior change in a larger proportion of the population?
The results of the research carried out by Prof. Efferson and his co-authors will undoubtedly be of interest to public policymakers and managers. Find out more in the article published on the HECimpact blog.
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