How to Influence Large Group Behavior

When you are in a position of power over groups of people, you have the ability to influence their behavior. Whether you influence the behavior of groups towards a positive direction is up to you. However, the rules by which group behavior is enforced are finite and simple to learn. Group behavior should be controlled with the underlying knowledge of humanity’s need for competition. Utilize the competitive nature of human beings and the tendency for group members to be competitive with one another.

Always make sure that a losing team is identified within the group you want to control. There needs to be an image which most people in the group don’t want to become. For broader society, most people would not want to become part of the the lowest economic class. Group behavior is therefore influenced by the image of us falling poor and unhappy. This method was one of the methods used to lower the smoking rates of western society. Governments advertised smokers as guaranteed to be in poor health, and leading uninteresting, average, and sad lives.

Create an Undesirable Subgroup Within Your Group

When you have a group in front of you to be controlled, make sure you know what people in that group fear of becoming. Advertise the behaviors which you want to put a stop to as leading people into that aspect of society they do not want to become. Make sure the association of their behavior and the negative outcome is direct and clear. You will never force people to do what you explicitly want them to, so the next best thing is to make their desires align with yours.

In a sense, your beliefs need to be believable and coherent enough for the group to adopt them. Connecting the undesired behaviors of a group to the subgroup nobody wants to be a part of is a difficult task.


Sports club salesmen make that connection by advertising unfit people in a negative light. The gyms and trainers make a living off of picking out a subgroup of a population and presenting them in a negative light.

The extra step they take in utilizing that method to earn income can be seen as unethical but would need to be argued for. They present a solution to an issue that they help in constructing; the ideal body image.

Utilize this method of changing group behavior when there are group behaviors which you want to put a stop to. Make sure you make your group members understand the association between their bad behaviors and what they don’t want to become.

Connect behaviors which you want to put a stop to with this undesirable subgroup. Then advertise this connection to enforce understanding across the whole group. The competitive nature of human beings will drive the behavior change of the groups you lead. People will compete in order to not become a part of the undesirable minority. They will do whatever it is that breaks their similarities with the people they don’t want to become.

Book Recommendation: 

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook

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