Normative Social Influence is Underdetected
The present research investigated the persuasive impact and detectability of normative social influence. The first study surveyed 810 Californians about energy conservation and found that descriptive normative beliefs were more predictive of behavior than were other relevant beliefs, even though respondents rated such norms as least important in their conservation decisions. Study 2, a field experiment, showed that normative social influence produced the greatest change in behavior com- pared to information highlighting other reasons to conserve, even though respondents rated the normative social influence produced the greatest change in behavior compared to information highlighting other reasons to conserve, even though respondents rated the normative information as least motivating. Results show that normative messages can be a powerful lever of persuasion but that their influence is underdetected.