Summary of How to Motivate People to Do Good for Others

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To encourage people to act virtuously, make them believe that others will notice their good behavior, remove excuses for inaction and communicate expectations. Research scientist and altruism expert Erez Yoeli says human behavior is predictable, and once you know how, you can nudge individuals into doing the right thing. Tweaking incentives might ultimately provide solutions to the world’s most intractable problems, which makes Yoeli’s light-hearted overview especially relevant. 

About the Speaker

Erez Yoeli is a research scientist and expert in human altruism.

 

Summary

People are more inclined to do good if they think they’ll get credit for it.

How can you prompt people to behave altruistically? When a power company wanted customers to sign up for technology that would help reduce electricity demand during a blackout, it mailed letters asking people to contact a hotline to learn about the program, but the response rate was dismal.

Altruism researcher Erez Yoeli and his team suggested hanging sign-up sheets in conspicuous spots in the lobbies of apartment buildings. Individuals were quick to sign up when their altruism was clearly visible to their neighbors. 

“Observability” harnesses “the power of reputations.”

When making decisions in private, individuals generally mull on their personal concerns and worries. But when a broader population can <...


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