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Friday, August 13, 2010

Changing Behavior Through the Power of Influence

Commitment and Consistency are two things that human beings revere. If you want to change your behavior, publicly announcing the behavior can be a step to help you. This way you would be less likely to give up your goal since we all want to appear committed and consistent to others.

As humans we need social interaction with others and need to feel accepted by others (Baumeister, 2007). However, everyday people hop on social networking sites: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Friendster, etc... People are constantly available via their cell phones through multiple methods: voice calls, instant messages, e-mails, text messages, etc... Do you feel obligated to keep up with everything in everybody’s life and to reply to every single message you receive? I have heard many people even note that they use social networking sites during work hours and during class! This is wrong because it costs your employer money and it impairs your ability to really soak up the information being taught, not to mention it is very rude. Being “constantly available” can become a job itself! If you want to stop your constant availability, one method you can try is a powerful influence technique of publicly declaring your decision to not answer texts, calls, e-mails, etc… during work or school hours; or not to carry your phone with you to class; or for people to expect a late response because of your priorities. Your public declaration will obviously be tailored to your style and what behavior you wish to change.

It can be difficult to not pick up your phone or get on your computer, it almost comes automatic to some people. However, If we realize that we have publicly declared a decision of ours, we are more likely to stay consistent with it (Deutsh & Gerard, 1955).Since you publicly announced you would no longer be immediately available, you will be less apt to change your decision.

You might feel the pressure of staying consistent with what you publicly declare. According to Cialdini (2001), when we make a commitment and advertise it publicly, we want to appear consistent with our decision and will avoid changing that decision just for the sake of appearing committed to our word. Thus, this principle of influence can be used to change your own behavior that you wish to change.

Cialdini (2001) is correct about the power of social influence concerning consistency and commitment. We all want to appear consistent and committed to what we promise; especially in the eyes of the people we know. So why not use this principle to change behavior of ours that we want or need to change?


Baumeister, R. F. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497-529.

Cialdini, R. B. (2001). Influence: Science and Practice (4th ed.). Needham Heights: Allyn & Bacon, Inc.

Deutsch, M., & Gerard, H. B. (1955). A Study of Normative and Informational Social Influences upon Individual Judgment. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 51, 329-636.

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