Peer Pressure Isn't a Dirty Word

For most, the mere mention of peer pressure can conjure anything from negative feelings to middle school flashbacks. Tina Rosenberg, author of a new book called "Join the Club", is on a mission to give peer pressure a better reputation while promoting social change.

Rosenberg recently spoke with American Public Media's Kai Ryssdal to discuss the inspiration behind her book, and how peer pressure can effectively be used as a tool in promoting social campaigns. Her interview, featured as part of the Marketplace podcast, shed light on the positive power of peer pressure. A mother of three, Rosenberg is keenly aware of the stigma surrounding peer pressure, but she has seen first-hand the good it can do.

...we all know how powerful peer pressure can be, and how afraid grown-ups are of peer pressure applied to our children. But we can use this very powerful tool for good ends as well as for bad ends.

I came to the realization because I was working on a story about a group of students in Serbia, who organized a movement that eventually was key in the overthrow of Slobodan MilošÂ¡evic, and the techniques they were using were identical to ones that I had seen in a South African government teen AIDS prevention program. I started to think about, what is it that these two effective programs, which are so different in so many ways, have in common? And the answer was: they try and get people to change their behavior, not by giving them new information about how you get AIDS or how bad MilošÂ¡evic is, and not by appealing to fear, but by giving them a new peer group to identify with, by changing their behavior into a really cool and heroic thing to do.

This idea got our whole team thinking about how peer pressure has changed each of us for the better. After hearing the podcast, SeeClickFix Chief Strategy Officer Kam Lasater was quick to point out how peer pressure applied by our own Ben Berkowitz encouraged him to start picking up after litterbugs.

We make it easy for our users to peer pressure their friends. When you report a new issue to our site, we allow you to quickly share it on your Facebook and Twitter. So next time you report an issue in your community to SeeClickFix, tell everyone about your good deed and get them involved in the fix!