Psychologists have found a simple trick to reduce meat consumption in restaurants. Tell a customer that other people are increasingly choosing the menu’s meatless options, and the customer becomes more likely to order a vegetarian meal.
It’s a simple but effective intervention that relies on peer pressure and social influence to convince people to rethink their longstanding habits, says Gregg Sparkman, a Ph.D. student in psychology at Stanford University who led the experiment. Essentially, Sparkman’s findings show that you can change a person’s behavior by highlighting other people’s success in changing their behaviors. In another forthcoming study, currently under peer review, Sparkman argues that the same method could be used to help people stop smoking, quit sugary drinks, and even to identify as feminist.
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