...the funny part about all of this awareness-raising is that it doesn’t accomplish all that much. The underlying assumption of so many attempts to influence people’s behavior — that they make bad choices because they lack the information to empower them to do otherwise — is, except in a few cases, false. And what’s worse, awareness-raising done in the wrong way can actually backfire, encouraging the negative activities in question. One of the favorite pastimes of a certain brand of concerned progressive, then, may be much more effective at making them feel good about themselves than actually improving the world in any substantive way.
“We’ve known for over 50 years that providing information alone to people does not change their behavior,” said Victor Strecher, a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. It’s something of a consensus among people who study behavioral interventions ranging from health to bullying to crime: There are a lot of reasons why people do what they do, but awareness of their actions’ repercussions ranks pretty far down the list.