links for 2008-12-03

  • "In other words, Sizemore is sitting in jail until he actually files the federal and state tax forms for his supposedly charitable organization. Why hasn't he filed the forms? Because he's got a choice to make: Either file false tax forms that hide the transfer of money for personal purposes – or file truthful forms that fully disclose what he's done."
  • "Many environmental appeals involve what social psychologists refer to as "social norms" — the standards that we use to judge the appropriateness of our own behaviour. The basic premise underlying these appeals is that people tend to act in a way that is socially acceptable.

    So, if a particular behaviour (littering, for example, or driving a car with a large engine) can be cast in a socially unacceptable light, then people should be less likely to engage in that behaviour. However, a growing body of research suggests that attempting to change environmental behaviour using social norms is fraught with pitfalls and traps, so that even the best-intentioned persuasive appeal may backfire.

    As Robert Cialdini and his colleagues at Arizona State University have demonstrated, the problem with appeals based on social norms is that they often contain a hidden message."