The Principle of Consensus tells us, when people are unsure how to act in certain situations, they tend to look to others to see how they should respond. It makes me think about the old saying, “There’s safety in numbers.”
For example, when making a major purchase on something we don’t know lots about, we just feel better when we know there have been many other satisfied customers. After all, what are the chances all those people were all wrong?
If you’re the parent of a teenager, you know this principle is true because you’re constantly warning against “peer pressure” when it’s related to bad choices. During their teens, kids look to other kids for their cues on how to talk, dress and act.
Even though they may see themselves as different, to adults most teenagers look and act alike. The reality is, teens may be different than their parents but they’re just the same as their friends.
How can understanding the consensus principle help you? Two ways. First, just share with people whose behavior you’re trying to influence how lots of other people are already doing what you’re asking them to do.
The second way would be to share with them what people like them are doing. We are very motivated to want to move with the crowd because we’ve been taught there’s safety in numbers.