An explication of social norms

Maria Knight Lapinski, Rajiv N. Rimal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


This article identifies four factors for consideration in norms-based research to enhance the predictive ability of theoretical models. First, it makes the distinction between perceived and collective norms and between descriptive and injunctive norms. Second, the article addresses the role of important moderators in the relationship between descriptive norms and behaviors, including outcome expectations, group identity, and ego involvement. Third, it discusses the role of both interpersonal and mass communication in normative influences. Lastly, it outlines behavioral attributes that determine susceptibility to normative influences, including behavioral ambiguity and the public or private nature of the behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-147
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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