Stepping back from social norms campaigns: Comparing normative influences to other predictors of health behaviors

Kenzie A. Cameron*, Shelly Campo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent health campaigns on college campuses have used a social norms approach, which suggests that one's perceptions of others' attitudes and behaviors are the key components in attitude and behavior change. However, the efficacy of social norms campaigns has been mixed. This study was conducted to assess the relationships among sociodemographics, normative perceptions, and individual attitudes on 3 health behaviors. Students at 2 universities (N = 393) completed questionnaires assessing how these variables related to their consumption of alcohol, tobacco use, and exercise behaviors. Regressions indicated that each of these variables was associated with behavior, but varied independent variables emerged as the salient predictors among behaviors. In several conditions the effect of normative perceptions on behaviors was not significant, a finding in direct opposition to social norms marketing. In all 3 behavioral conditions, the variable accounting for the greatest variance was whether or not the individual liked participating in that particular behavior. Thus, although some social norms marketing may be meeting with success, it may be the case that predicted attitudinal and behavioral changes will not be found when applied across diverse health topics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-288
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Communication
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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