How to Influence Group Behavior in a Practical Manner

When you are in a position of power over groups of people, you have the ability to influence their behavior. Whether you influence the behavior of groups towards a positive direction is up to you. However, the rules by which group behavior is enforced are finite and simple to learn. Group behavior should be controlled with the underlying knowledge of humanity’s need for competition. Utilize the competitive nature of human beings and the tendency for group members to be competitive with one another.

Try to ensure that a losing team is identified within the group you want to control. In order to influence a group one way, there needs to be a negative image which people in the group don’t want to be seen being a part of. For example, in broader society, a majority would not want to become a part of the the lowest economic class. Societal group behavior is therefore influenced in part, by the image of us falling poor and unhappy. It is the worst-case scenarios which reinforce our behavior to go to school, find jobs, and to sometimes suppress our more primal desires. The method of identifying a losing team was one of the methods used to lower the smoking rates in western society. Governments advertised smokers as guaranteed to be in poor health and thereby low in levels of contentment with everyday life. 

Create an Undesirable Subgroup Within Your Group

When you have a group in front of you to be controlled, make sure you know what people in that group fear of becoming. Advertise the behaviors which you want to put a stop to as leading people into being associated with the subgroup they do not want to become a part of. Make sure the association of their behavior with the negative outcome is direct and clear. You will never force people to do what you explicitly want them to, so the next best thing is to make their desires align with yours.

In a sense, your beliefs need to be believable and coherent enough for the group to adopt them. Connecting the undesired behaviors of a group to the subgroup nobody wants to be a part of is a difficult task. Thereby, if your goals are unrealistic, your results will be underwhelming.

Utilize this method of changing group behavior when there are group behaviors which you want to put a stop to. In essence, you will be steering the behavior of any group you manage by allowing them to explore their own interests (or lack thereof) regarding what they do not want to become. Ensure you make your group members understand the association between their bad behaviors and who they don’t want to become.

Connect behaviors which you want to put a stop to with this undesirable subgroup. Then advertise this connection to enforce understanding across the group as a whole. The competitive nature of human beings will drive the behavior change of the groups you lead. People will compete in order to not become a part of the undesirable minority. They will do whatever it is that breaks their similarities with the people they don’t want to become.


Your behavior whilst being cut-off in traffic may have been influenced by the many media portrayals of out-of-control, angry, and seemingly sad participants of road-rage. We would hate to see ourselves being identified as an angry, red-faced person yelling curse words as loud, and as creatively, as they can manage. When you do experience invitations for road-rage thereby, you may remind yourself to not become one of the many who lose control of their emotions.


Book Recommendation: 

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

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