JOIN THE CLUB: How peer pressure can transform the world by Tina Rosenberg

Genres: Social Science, Sociology, Psychology

Rating: 3/5

Recommend to: Marketers, Start-up founders, Entrepreneurs, People in sales, Coaches, Public figures.

Number of pages: 432 pages


Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are. That is how much peer pressure defines us. Peer pressure is the power of influence you give to others over yourself based on your need of acceptance and acknowledgment of others. In every circumstance peer pressure will give you courage to do what the majority and the leadership of your group wants to do, even if you do not agree or feel like doing it 100%. It all starts and ends with emotions, feelings and your needs. That is why peer pressure is such an enigma. As you will read in the book in different situation same actions or strategies have different effects and results. So to say that there is a universal formula to how peer pressure works would be a lie. What works for teens may not work for adults, what works for people in Asia might now work for people in Europe and so on. And even when you develop a successful peer pressure strategy or as the author calls it “social cure” you always have to keep an eye on it because it is like a living organism which reacts to the changes in its environment. A powerful element of peer pressure is the need of an individual to belong to a group of people and the fear of being alone or abandoned by them. Now this is not such a bad thing. Not if you surround yourself with the right type of people. The ones who act the way you want to act, who have the same hobbies you want to have, who share your beliefs and live their lives the way you want to live yours. Once you understand that you have the power to decide who is in your life and accept the fact that people in your life influence your conscious and unconscious decision life can get better. Of course if you decide so. We have a basic need to belong to a group, but we have the power to decide on our own to what type of group we want to belong. We might not find it right aways but if you are determined enough you may even start your own group/club and spread your peer pressure/social cure to others.


  • The more important and deeply rooted the behavior, the less impact information has and the more people close their minds to messages that scare them.
  • This book is about changing behavior by helping people obtain what they most care about: the respect of their peers.
  • People want to belong, to be part of the “in crowd”, to be loved and admired and respected.
  • The way to change behavior is to create a “desirable club” to join a peer group so strong and persuasive that the individual adopts a new identity.
  • Along with genetics, peer pressure is probably the most important influence on who we are.
  • Take your brand of the shelf and into the community. Create fun and cool experiences with concerts, games, tournaments, blogs, websites,… Whatever it takes to get people talking about your brand.
  • The logic of your brand should be to create something larger than life, a sense of belonging.
  • Create an environment where peers can motivate others by sharing their own personal history.
  • The stronger our commitment to a belief, the more we are invested in proving it right, and we interpret all other information in the light most favorable to our beliefs.
  • People typically measure themselves and set their own rules by looking at the social norms of a handful of peers.
  • When people are uncertain about how to behave, they usually look around them to see what their peers are doing.
  • In real life, violating the expectations of the community is cause for rejection.
  • When changing behavior make sure you do it by showing it in a way that the change you want is presented in a way that is socially acceptable and doing otherwise is socially unacceptable. This triggers our most primitive response – “what is the crowd doing”.
  • Getting people to feel something is a more powerful motivator than getting them to know certain facts.
  • Credibility with your audience matters. There is nothing wrong with employing emotion,as long as it is true to the people you are trying to reach.
  • For teenagers looking stupid is much worse than the fear of death. So if you want them to stop doing something make sure you pick the right strategy.
  • All campaigns against smoking were designed as: parents vs children, teachers vs students, healthy vs risky, and because of that they were ineffective. But it all changed with the campaign with the theme tobacco companies vs the rest of us.
  • If you want to persuade people to change their behavior, you must embrace the idea of brands. A brand creates loyalty, affinity, and consistent expectations for the experience people will have with a product / service. Brands create emotional associations.
  • Brand a lifestyle.
  • Word-of-mouth-marketing experts say that it isn’t simply good products that inspire customers to text or call or e-mail their friends. It’s about the way the product affects the customers’ identity.
  • Experiential marketing tries to involve people in an experience not just a purchase, even if the purpose is getting them to buy.
  • Experiential marketing tries to build a community, one that transmits its new norms to its members. It gives them activities to go to and do, people to meet, a group that revolves around the product.
  • Research suggests that labeling a person “remedial” might undermine his or her performance.
  • Students learn  best when they learn from and teach each other.
  • A close community helps hold you accountable.
  • Humor is key to smashing through the wall of fear.
  • The information itself counts less than who delivers it, and how.
  • If they cannot relate to you, if your lifestyle doesn’t resonate, they will not accept anything from you.
  • Most people are searching for a cause, something to belong to.
  • With almost everything that people need to be nagged about, the nagging is much more effective if it comes with information about what others are doing. For example: a postcard from your dentist could inform laggards how often other people have their teeth cleaned.

Case studies/Examples of a social cure:

There is no universal formula how peer pressure works, but lucky for us the author shares with us more than a few examples in the book. The author writes about which strategies worked in the battle against smoking and which didn’t in the USA, and how South Africa successfully lowered the number of teens getting infected with HIV/AIDS and why the same strategy didn’t work for adults. You will also get to read about how peer pressure can start a revolution in a country being terrorized by a dictator, or how and why neighbours are more effective communities if they develop trust and live as one big family, and how community clubs, training centers and similar youth centers prevent gang and terror violence. There is also a case study where a movement that was started in India to eliminate the caste system by empowering the lowest caste the Dalits (untouchables) with knowledge and responsibility of care givers and teaching them about entrepreneurship and business. It is remarkable to read how these women then changed their world. Not all cases/examples are success stories, as many projects started failing when their funds were cut, or when the political climate changed. Basically you get to read what worked and what not and why. I would like to share my favorite case with you. It’s about a bank that works differently then most of us are used to.

Example 1: Grameen bank – organized by Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus

In India the problem was that the banks refused to lend money to the very poor. So the poorest borrowed money from loan sharks which took almost all the profit made with borrowed money. Yunus decided there was another way to look at banking. The poor don’t have collateral in the traditional way banks see capital, but they have one type of collateral that means a lot to them: their standing among their peers. So with that in mind Grameen formed its borrowers into group of five women each. The group had to approve each new loan, and members could only get new loans if their fellow borrowers were current on their repayment. Effectively the whole group would be held hostage to one delinquent repayer.

Peer pressure made this run. In a small village, the opinion of one’s neighbors takes on supreme importance. Garmeen used peer pressure to lift the expensive burdens of determining credit worthiness and monitoring repayment from the bank’s shoulders and put them on the shoulders of the borrower’s neighbors. The key factor for a high repayment rate was not the threat to the group that made the women repay their loans on time – it was the simple desire to protect their reputations.


Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman
Malcolm Gladwell
Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter



Thank you for your time. I hope you have found this book review helpful. Talk to you in the comment section.

purpose focus commitment

Leave a Reply