Originally aired July 2011
If you want to change people’s behavior – get them to use condoms, stop smoking, eat more healthy foods, for example – how do you do it? Though the examples may be contemporary, the question is old as society itself. What have we tried? Carrots – gold stars, awards, recognition, money, religious rewards…And sticks – guilt, shame, ostracism, punishment – both on earth and in the hereafter. So what works?
In her book JOIN THE CLUB, TINA ROSENBERG identifies a successful strategy based on harnessing the positive force of peer pressure. She tells stories of how it has reduced AIDS among teens in South Africa and smoking among teens in the United States, made villages in India healthier and more prosperous, helped minority students get top grades in college calculus, and even led to the fall of Slobodan Milosevic. Creative social entrepreneurs are starting to use peer pressure to accomplish goals as personal as losing weight and as global as fighting terrorism.
If you’re committed to changing behavior – from your own diet or habits to societal responses to climate change or inequity – join the club.