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Subtle Message Change Can Significantly Alter Behavior

winnond/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- People generally don’t like to be told what to do. However, by subtly rephrasing a message, they don’t seem to mind as much, particularly if it means being accepted into a group.

Psychology researchers at the University of Luxembourg decided to test that theory in two hotels whereby they attempted to convince guests to use fewer towels as a way to conserve energy.

In the bathrooms of one hotel, they posted a small sign that read “75 percent of guests in this hotel reuse their towels” while in the other hotel’s bathrooms the sign was slightly altered to read, “75 percent of guests in this room reuse their towels.”

Lead researcher Dr. Gerhard Reese says guests who read about the habits of the previous room’s inhabitants used an average of one towel per day while those who read the more general signs used an average of 1.6 towels daily.

Reese explains that since humans are social beings, they want to mimic positive behaviors of others, “believing that they are similar to ourselves.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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