How They Change You
By Kevin Hogan
Out Group Influence
I hear it all the time, "You can't change someone else. They have to do it themselves."
I promise you there is truth in that statement...and that it is also incorrect. It's VERY difficult to change without being changed by the influence of others.
Just the THOUGHT of how others think & feel is often enough for you to change in a MOMENT.
When researchers give college students a chance to take one of 4 CD's as a gift, the researchers tell the students which is the most popular CD on campus, and invariably that CD is chosen least often by the college students.
Most (not all) students (humans) do NOT want to be part of the BIG crowd.
If something is perceived as "everyone in an Outgroup is doing it," that's enough to turn off most people (aside from those in the Outgroup) from doing it.
In 2010, legislators determined that cigarette package labels would contain stiffer warnings and imagery. They are expecting this to result in fewer sales of cigarettes. It will backfire and cigarette sales will increase, perhaps dramatically if messages are directed to younger potential smokers.
Years ago, Marilyn Manson was a largely unknown rocker and was coming to play at the stadium. I read a lengthy editorial in the paper by a well known church leader who was "offended" by Manson's appearance and behavior and he was urging all local churches to tell their congregations to stay away and not go.
That, of course, turned out to be the best advertising the entertainer could have hoped for. Having an Out group leader advertise AGAINST ANYTHING is the most powerful form of positive advertising there is...and readily achieves the opposite goal.
Anti-gun groups that generate inflammatory press to ban handguns cause a direct increase in the sale of handguns...and ammunition and related supplies.
President Obama is credited with being the #1 Gun Salesman of all time. Not only did he single-handedly increase gun sales in the last year, he drove prices of everything from guns to ammunition to all time highs. In fact, The President drove more people to buy their first gun than any salesman in history.
It's impressive when demand is so great that it raises prices, instead of lowering them.
Since 9/11 the Muslim bashing segment of the press has helped cause Islam to be the fastest growing religion in the United States in 2013.
The simple lesson here of course is that a large percentage of people are dramatically reactant by nature. They don't want to be controlled or told what to do. They are anti-authoritarian by nature.
People can be influenced to not do X simply by showing an "invisible image" of an Out group person performing the behavior.
In fact, some people resist the influence/goals of others, by moving away from The Influencers, before anyone is aware there is a goal or influence.
Of course everyone (though we don't necessarily know which in advance) is resistant to some goals, outcomes, behaviors and experiences and will react "against" such goals and behaviors by moving away from the people.
If a child is doing poorly at math in school and sees that, the resistant child will not be cued to improve but will move away from attempts to improve at math...particularly if the people who are doing well at math are particularly close friends or family. This doesn't change as people mature and go about their daily business.
The easiest way to drive these people (perhaps you!) toward anything is to tell them it is bad or "not good for you" or even better, that it's "dangerous" or could be "deadly." As the message spreads, it will engender images of people in an Out group speaking out against something which is the same as speaking for it in the minds of EVERYONE not in the Out group.
Although most people want to belong to some certain groups, people will often move toward groups where they believe others in the current environment most protest against and dislike from people they consider to be the most unlike themselves.
Reactant individuals often turn out to be the most successful entrepreneurs and salespeople as they have dis-associated themselves so much and so often from standard well worn paths in the corporate world that they excel in the smaller more reactant (aggression/competition/achievement oriented) professions. Of course they also can become potential failures in society should they group together with Negative Influencers.
In all groups, if the reactant someone who isn't on board with some goal or outcome feels they are being outclassed or outperformed by someone they are close to, they generally will move away from the person succeeding at X.
The opposite is also true.
How do you cause change....with only a gesture ...
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