Frank, Robert H.
Under the Influence
Putting Peer Pressure to Work
Aims and Scope
From New York Times bestselling author and economics columnist Robert Frank, bold new ideas for creating environments that promise a brighter future
Psychologists have long understood that social environments profoundly shape our behavior, sometimes for the better, often for the worse. But social influence is a two-way street—our environments are themselves products of our behavior. Under the Influence explains how to unlock the latent power of social context. It reveals how our environments encourage smoking, bullying, tax cheating, sexual predation, problem drinking, and wasteful energy use. We are building bigger houses, driving heavier cars, and engaging in a host of other activities that threaten the planet—mainly because that's what friends and neighbors do.
In the wake of the hottest years on record, only robust measures to curb greenhouse gases promise relief from more frequent and intense storms, droughts, flooding, wildfires, and famines. Robert Frank describes how the strongest predictor of our willingness to support climate-friendly policies, install solar panels, or buy an electric car is the number of people we know who have already done so. In the face of stakes that could not be higher, the book explains how we could redirect trillions of dollars annually in support of carbon-free energy sources, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone.
Most of us would agree that we need to take responsibility for our own choices, but with more supportive social environments, each of us is more likely to make choices that benefit everyone. Under the Influence shows how.
- 32 b/w illus. 2 tables.
- PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
- Professional and scholarly;College/higher education;
"Call this book 'the mother of all cognitive illusions' meets 'the mother of all suicidal delusions.' Interested? You should be if you are really worried about how the cost of the Green New Deal is going to be met—logically, rationally, equitably, and soon. Robert Frank is not kidding when he asserts that even a middle schooler would understand his explanations of the public-policy stupidity that results when what he calls behavioral contagion trumps right actions."—Anthony Ingraffea, Cornell University
"Under the Influence describes a neglected goal for social policy: to gently foster the wisdom needed, individually and collectively, to achieve the Good Life. Frank's own wisdom is on view in every paragraph of this book, with its brilliant perspective on—and solution to—the problems of our times."—George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate in Economics
"An important and thought-provoking examination of how key individual choices are shaped by social context and fashion—and a clarion call for policies that better respond to that insight."—Bina Venkataraman, author of The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age
"Smart, delightful, and provocative, Under the Influence is designed to rock your boat—and maybe even sink it. Not to be missed!"—Daniel Gilbert, Harvard University
"Economists are learning that human behavior is more than just a series of cost/benefit calculations. Robert Frank has been at the forefront of bringing biology and psychology into the equation, including our sensitivity to how those around us think and act. The human 'herd instinct' has consequences ranging from how we regulate tobacco to how we can avert a climate catastrophe."—Frans de Waal, author of Mama's Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves