Managing social norms for persuasive impact

Author: Cialdini, Robert B.; Demaine, Linda J.; Sagarin, Brad J.; Barrett, Daniel W.; Rhoads, Kelton; Winter, Patricia L.

Description: In order to mobilize action against a social problem, public service communicators often include normative information in their persuasive appeals. Such messages can be either effective or ineffective because they can normalize either desirable or undesirable conduct. To examine the implications in an environmental context, visitors to Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park were exposed to messages that admonished against the theft of petrified wood. In addition, the messages conveyed information either about descriptive norms (the levels of others’ behavior) or injunctive norms (the levels of others’ disapproval) regarding such thievery. Results showed that focusing message recipients on descriptive normative information was most likely to increase theft, whereas focusing them on injunctive normative information was most likely to suppress it. Recommendations are offered for optimizing the impact of normative messages in situations characterized by objectionable levels of undesirable conduct.

Subject headings: Social norms; Desirable or undesirable conduct; Descriptive; Injunctive

Publication year: 2006

Journal or book title: Social Influence

Volume: 1

Issue: 1

Pages: 3-15

Find the full text:

Find more like this one (cited by):,5&hl=en

Serial number: 3232

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.