Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Attitude Formation Change, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: As we isolate and socially distance (more or less) out way into the holiday season it is a good time to think about others. Yes, that might involve giving something to your local food bank (good idea!), but what about the sort of “thinking of others” that is behind the pleas from health officials and scientists for us to more consistently wear masks, socially distance, and avoid out of bubble social gatherings? We, in parts of North America, are NOT doing those things very well. We could respond by saying something like, well some people are and some people are not and we should speak more harshly to those that are not, but, THAT hasn’t really been so effective has it? So, what to do? See if you can think of some ways we might do better at getting more people to do tings that are good for themselves AND good for others and then read through the article linked below to see what researchers who focus directly on this question have to suggest.

Source: we Know How to Curb the Pandemic. How Do We Make People Listen? Kim Tingley, Studies Show, The New York Times.

Date: December 10, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by André Santana from Pixabay

Article Link:

It is fascinating (I think) to see that perhaps pointing out the danger and potential consequences of social gatherings might actually support the idea that many people are having social gatherings in ways that do not reinforce a social norm of no social gatherings! Simply indicating that the desired behavior IS a social norm already (it is what others are doing) produces MORE adherence with health recommendations. Those sorts of nudges have proved to be very powerful in increasing positive behavior, like re-using one’s hotel towels, and in reducing harmful behavior, such as the levels of binge drinking among first year university students.  So, as the author if the linked article suggests, perhaps it is time to listen to Behavioral Science, at least in terms of how Health scientists and officials might best be talking to us about mask wearing, social distancing and social bubbling.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might some people ignore the recommendations of health scientists and officials in relation to Covid social protocols?
  2. How might “what others are doing” be a useful and important addition to Covid social behavior health messaging?
  3. How do social norms enter into this discussion and why might they be important?

References (Read Further):

Lazer, D. et al., (2020) The COVID States Project: A 50-State COVID-19 Survey Report #26: Trajectory of COVID-19 Related Behaviors Link

Goldstein, N. J., Cialdini, R. B., & Griskevicius, V. (2008). A room with a viewpoint: Using social norms to motivate environmental conservation in hotels. Journal of consumer Research, 35(3), 472-482. Link

Nakayachi, K., Ozaki, T., Shibata, Y., & Yokoi, R. (2020). Why do Japanese people use masks against COVID-19, even though masks are unlikely to offer protection from infection? Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1918. Link

Cialdini, R. B., Reno, R. R., & Kallgren, C. A. (1990). A focus theory of normative conduct: recycling the concept of norms to reduce littering in public places. Journal of personality and social psychology, 58(6), 1015. Link

Cialdini, R. (2020) Advice for Reducing Undersirable COVID-19 Behaviors, Link

Bicchieri, C., Fatas, E., Aldama, A., Casas, A., Deshpande, I., Lauro, M., … & Wen, R. (2020). In Science we (should) trust: expectations and compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Link

Yoeli, E., Hoffman, M., Rand, D. G., & Nowak, M. A. (2013). Powering up with indirect reciprocity in a large-scale field experiment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(Supplement 2), 10424-10429. Link

Pollock, N. C., McCabe, G. A., Southard, A. C., & Zeigler-Hill, V. (2016). Pathological personality traits and emotion regulation difficulties. Personality and Individual Differences, 95, 168-177. Link