I’m currently reading “Influencer: The power to change anything” by Patterson, et.al. Despite the somewhat corny title with it’s grandiose promise, I’m finding the book quite interesting. It describes a set of factors or forces that affect how people behave, and which should be taken into consideration when trying to change behavior. The two main forces are motivation (“is changing this habit worth the trouble?”), and belief in ones ability (“will I be able to change this habit?”), and these are further subdivided into personal, structural, and social factors. This results in six target areas for incentives, each of which is discussed in detail in the book. When enough effort is put into each of them, change will, according to the authors, be inevitable.
The book includes many and various real-world examples and case-studies, ranging from fighting the spread of diseases such as Aids or the Guinea worm parasite in Africa, to increasing effectiveness in an American car factory, or rehabilitating life-long criminals and helping them integrate into society. Each case describes how the six factors have been targeted in order to make unwanted behavior unappealing or difficult, and new/positive behavior easy and attractive.
I’m about half way through the book at this point, and the theories and strategies provided have been quite plausible and interesting. Beyond the title, the book does not promise change to be easy. It does, however, provide a framework in which to understand a lot of human behavior and the motivation behind it, and a set of tools and strategies for influencing it. All in all, a good read so far, with a nice mix of theories and strategies, and stories to back them up and make them memorable.