One of the key principles of persuasion is being liked. If people like you, they would be more likely to be influenced by your behavior. If they like anyone, they would be influenced by what they do. 

Robert Cialdini had a whole section in his book, Influence just about liking. 

… which brings me to talk about ‘modeling’ as a tool to influence behavior. 


Change is scary, and we usually look to see what others are doing to conform. We want to fit-in. We strive to be accepted. We look for the “social norm”. 

Psychologist Albert Bandura (1977) believed that watching what others do has a far greater impact on human behaviour than internal motivations or individually driven incentives. When deciding how to act, many people ask (subconsciously), ‘How will I look if I undertake this behaviour? ‘What are the social norms around this behaviour?’ ‘Are people I consider to be influential undertaking this behaviour?’ Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) are two psychologists who have been studying behaviour change for many years. They articulate the influence of social norms on motivation as being ‘the person’s perception that most people who are important to him or her think he should or should not perform the behavior in question’.” — Adam Ferrier, The Advertising Effect: How to Change Behaviour

Read: Here’s the secret to behavioral change 

Social norm influences how people act.


Does the phrase, “monkey see, monkey do” ring any bells?

“Monkey see, monkey do”, is the core principle of “modeling”.

When change is scary, and when we follow social norms, it can be quite challenging to change our behaviors. We think, “what for?”

And the truth is… What for? 

We think what for unless we see benefits; unless we have the motivation; unless we see how easy it is to change that behavior. 

We think what for until we see someone, a model, doing something differently… Even better when that model is someone we actually like, then we start thinking, “why not?”

“Social learning theory asserts that we learn new ways of behaving by watching ‘models’. We copy them.”

Adam Ferrier, The Advertising Effect: How to Change Behaviour

It’s quite common to see some people trying to influence others by saying things like, “Do as I say.” Others simply try to give “advice” to do things in a certain way, while they themselves don’t do it. 

While that is far from being a compelling argument, I still see it happening on a daily basis, from people who should be quite smart when dealing with others. 

We are more influenced by what we observe that what we hear. 

When we see someone buying the Starbucks pumpkin latte, we are more likely to try it. If this someone is a friend whom we like and trust, then we are even more likely to try it. 

Modeling doesn’t only work when buying products. It works in all aspects of our daily behaviors. For example, I hate doing dishes. Dishes are by far the last thing I want to do on my list, but when I see someone doing the dishes, I feel damn, I should be the dishes too, especially if I like them. I feel guilty and then I go ahead and do the dishes. 


Just remember, we like to conform to the social norm. We are influenced when we see someone, as a model, doing something in a different manner, not when we are told to…And, if this someone is someone we like, we are kind of screwed. We will follow through. 

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  1. Pingback: 5 Traits that make people 'cool' | Sherwette

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