Thoughts from Invisibilia

Thoughts about and quotes from the podcast Invisibilia from NPR.

Norms engineering

The march 16 episode was about an attempt to change behavior in Somalia via media. It introduced a concept--explained by Betsy Levy Paluck from Princeton University--called norms engineering. The short story is that both attitudes and cultural norms influence behavior. For a long time people have tried to change attitudes, but recently they've realized you can change the perception of what is normal.

This is a very uncomfortable thought. We like to think that all of our behaviors flow from our convictions, and what we do is a reflection of who we are and what we think. But we're constantly tuning ourselves to fit in with the social world around us, oftentimes in ways that we can't even identify. We're just trying to not stand out.

Here's a specific example from Russia and the 2016 election.

[Russia] really purposefully engineered new perceptions of how common interracial strife was or how pervasive hatred for Hillary Clinton was.