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 in a positive direction is up to you to morally come to terms with. However, the rules and tools with which group behavior is altered tend to not assume a moral identity of their own. This article aims to provide one easy-to-remember method of swaying the collective actions of any group of people.

Presented below, is the notion that group behavior should be swayed with the underlying belief in people’s strong desire to compete. The utilization, and exploitation, of a certain group’s members’ capacity to compete against one another is specifically what the content below will focus on. In short, this article can be summarized in one line like so:

Ensure that a losing team / subgroup is clearly defined within the larger group you want to influence to behave in the opposite way. 

In order to influence a group one way, there needs to be a negative identity / subgroup 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 seems to become more powerful as those we call close begin to reinforce their lack of desire to become a part of the losing class.

For instance, you may be strongly against consumer culture norms and the alleged marketing schemes involved around Valentine’s day. A significant other’s subscription to the belief that not getting a gift on Valentine’s day is a loss of some-sort will encourage you to act against your beliefs and purchase one for them. 

 


Creating an Undesirable Subgroup Within Your Group


When you have a group in front of you to be influenced, ensure you pinpoint what people in that group fear becoming. It seems that the more detailed the undesirable behavior is, the easier it is to draw a clear line between those who act that certain way, and those who don’t.

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. Ensure 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 entice, as accurately as possible, their desires to 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 already a difficult task. Thereby, if your goals are unrealistic, your results will be underwhelming. If not obvious, your associations between certain behaviors and an undesirable subgroup need to be easy to provide evidence / reason for. 

Utilize this method of changing group behavior when there are group behaviors that can be clearly connected to a specific, undesirable subgroup of people within that group. 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 who they do not want to become.

Think of your role in the process as simply one of educating, not providing guidance, pushing, or suggesting. Ensure you make your group members understand the association between what you deem to be their bad behaviors and who they actually don’t want to become.

Connect behaviors which you want to put a stop to with this undesirable subgroup with strong evidence and reason. Then advertise this connection to enforce understanding across the group as a whole. Place your trust in people’s competitive nature to drive the behavior change of the groups you lead once you’ve done your part in educating. People will compete in order to not become a part of the undesirable minority. They will do whatever it is that breaks their connections / similarities with the people they don’t want to become.

 


Example:

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



Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims in any way.