Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Social Proof

In our hotel experiment, we considered the finding that the majority of hotel guests who encounter the towel reuse signs do actually recycle their towels at least some time during their stay. What if we simply informed guests of this fact? Would it have any influence on their participation in the conservation program relative to the participation rates that a basic environmental appeal yields? With the cooperation of a hotel manager, two of us and another colleague created two signs and placed them in hotel rooms. One was designed to reflect the type of basic environmental-protection message adopted throughout much of the hotel industry. It asked the guests to help save the environment and to show their respect for nature by participating in the program. A second sign used the social proof information by informing guests that the majority of guests at the hotel recycled their towels at least once during the course of their stay. These signs were randomly assigned to the rooms in the hotel.

Social proof is very important, as this particular experiment shows. The bottom line at that link? "That’s a 26 percent increase in participation relative to the industry standard, which we achieved simply by changing a few words on the sign to convey what others were doing. Not a bad improvement for a factor that people say has no influence on them at all."

I got a link to that study, and to some great video, from http://mormonmd.wordpress.com/2008/09/22/points-of-interest-31-2/ -- I'd have left a comment there if the blog allowed it, just to say thanks.

Social Proof is very important and so often overlooked as a persuasive tool, a verifier and a validation.

Never forget that lesson when considering what you are doing, why you are doing it or what you want others to do.


sojourner said...

This social proof post ties in very well with the wrathful post. Understanding the dynamics of the social proof theory helps us to be weary of being led astray when we are not sure what God would want us to do. Often we look to those around us for guidence rather than looking to our Heavenly Father. Thus, hanging out with wrathful people may cause us to be wrathful during uncertain social situations. We can also use social proof (as you suggested) as a reminder that our testimony can make a huge difference in social situations when people are not sure how to conduct their lives. Thanks for the insight!

Stephen said...

Sojourner, thank you for your comment and the way it adds to both posts.