Think Out Loud

"We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience." -John Dewey

More evidence for social norms affecting behavior


A majority of hotel guests forego daily fresh towels for environmental reasons.

A 2008 study from the Journal of Consumer Research provides further evidence that people change their behavior to conform to group expectations.  In this study, hotels got rid of hospitality cards that asked their clients to help the environment by reusing their towels.  They replaced them with new messages such as: “The majority of guests in this room reuse their towels”.

The more that people identified with the group described in the message, the more likely they were to reuse their towels.

Interestingly, perceived group membership plays a strong role in so-called “individualist societies” like those in the West.  By contrast, the “collectivist societies” of Asia are more emphatic about the importance of fitting in to a group.  This suggests that group-oriented thinking is a strong aspect of human nature.

As the UK employs these same principles in their social policy agendas, more and more environmental initiatives may start using marketing principles to change behavior.  This marks a change from information-laden calls to action and broad moral appeals.


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This entry was posted on December 9, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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