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The Brainy Business | Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy | Behavioral Economics

Nov 12, 2021

It’s November – a month where many begin to reflect on the year and (at least here in the states) consider the things we are thankful for. It kicks off the holiday season and we may begin to think about those around us whom we may see in person or virtually this holiday. Because of that, it seemed like the perfect time to discuss The Power of Us, a new book from coauthors Dr. Jay Van Bavel and Dr. Dominic Packer. 

Today, Dr. Dominic Packer is here to talk about this fantastic book and their years of research together. The insights in the book come together to help people harness their shared identities to improve performance, increase cooperation and promote social harmony. I’m guessing you can see why I chose to have this episode come out now, even though it is a couple of months after we recorded and when the book was officially released. It just seemed like the perfect time to share and help everyone to reflect upon the power of “us.” Listen to the episode now to see how this can be leveraged in your life and business...

Show Notes:

  • [00:07] In today’s episode I’m excited to introduce you to Dr. Dominic Packer, coauthor of The Power of Us.
  • [03:10] Dominic shares about himself and his background. He is a social psychologist and professor. 
  • [06:01] The book is about group identities. The groups we belong to can become part of who we are. 
  • [06:56] When we take on a group identity, we are very likely to be influenced by the norms of that group. 
  • [07:59] There is a second kind of influence which is informational influence. We look to other people to see what is a sensible thing to do. The norms through those groups become a way we express those identities. 
  • [09:36] Dominic shares about the 20 statements task. 
  • [11:22] For many of us, some really key aspects of ourselves come from these groups. They drive a lot of the way we think of the world, the emotions we feel, and the decisions we end up making. 
  • [13:02] During the course of a single day different aspects of a single person’s identity will come in and out of focus. Our behaviors are not exactly the same at different parts of the day when we operate through these different identities.
  • [14:52] One of the fascinating things about identity is that it is flexible, malleable, and adaptive to current circumstances. 
  • [17:08] Group-based divisions might arise by politics, fights over resources, or major political differences. 
  • [18:26] Groups are a tremendously useful tool for human beings. They are fundamental to our survival. Humans have succeeded by getting together. 
  • [21:35] In many corporate situations you have different divisions and units and people confirm identities at that subgroup level. People can get a lot of sense of connection and be very motivated to do well on behalf of their subgroup. 
  • [22:25] Identities are often multi-leveled. If you shift their focus from their lower-level identity to their higher level and especially if you create conditions where they need to work together it can bring them together. 
  • [23:50] You need to create the conditions by which people can see themselves as part of something larger than their immediate sub-group. People need to see that there is an organizational identity. 
  • [25:11] We need to incentivize collective identity instead of individual identities. Setting universal goals can also help. 
  • [28:07] “Dissent is quite hard and people only do it because they care deeply about a group.” 
  • [29:59] Both the people who are the most likely to conform to group norms most of the time are also the most likely to dissent when they see something as problematic or needing change in their group. This is because they care a lot. 
  • [30:50] To speak out is to take a risk and to take that risk is that you need to have some level of identification and care about the group.
  • [32:24] You do want a culture where the people that are strongly identified with the group do feel like they can speak up when they see something as problematic or see something that has the possibility of change or improvement. 
  • [32:53] A psychologically safe environment is one where people feel comfortable speaking up and speaking out, being critical, and being divergent. They feel comfortable because they know it will be okay. 
  • [34:03] You want an organization where your people are identified and they really value the collective goals but they are engaging with them creatively. 
  • [35:24] If you are trying to cultivate a group where people can share their ideas and can have better ideas than you, it is really important that you don’t squash them even when they are not good ideas. 
  • [36:49] As a boss, take time to reflect on what you are good at. Validating yourself and the contributions you make to free you up to be less threatened with other people bring good things to the table as well. 
  • [38:27] A fundamental task of a leader is to manage the social identities of the people they are leading.
  • [39:37] As a boss you have to be careful to not engage in behaviors that differentiate you too much from the group because then you no longer seem like one of us and you are not going to be followed as energetically or enthusiastically. 
  • [41:24] Consider how to manage this group’s identity so people understand what we are collectively trying to achieve and create a level of solidarity. 
  • [42:39] As you rise up in leadership positions it does oftentimes require a total shift in orientation. 
  • [45:23] Melina shares her closing thoughts. 
  • [46:02] Dissenters care so much that they are unwilling to let the little things slide that they think are reflecting badly on the whole group. They care so much that they will stand up against the herd and encourage change.
  • [47:50] Check out Melina’s Setting Brainy Goals course and shop at The Brainy Business shop for that perfect brainy gift.

Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show. 

I hope you love everything recommended via The Brainy Business! Everything was independently reviewed and selected by me, Melina Palmer. So you know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means if you decide to shop from the links on this page (via Amazon or others), The Brainy Business may collect a share of sales or other compensation.

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Top recommended next episode: Biases Toward Others – Including Group (episode 46)

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