Modeling the relationship between descriptive norms and behaviors

A test and extension of the theory of normative social behavior (TNSB)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Informed by the theory of normative social behavior, this article sought to determine the underlying mediating and moderating factors in the relationship between descriptive norms and behavioral intentions. Furthermore, the theory was extended by asking whether and what role behavioral identity played in normative influences. Simulating the central message of norms-based interventions to reduce college students' alcohol consumption, in this field experiment, descriptive norms were manipulated by informing half of the students (n = 665) that their peers consumed less alcohol than they might believe. Others (n = 672) were not provided any norms information. students' injunctive norms, outcome expectations, group identity, behavioral identity, and behavioral intention surrounding alcohol consumption were then measured. Exposure to the low-norms information resulted in a significant drop in estimates of the prevalence of consumption. Injunctive norms and outcome expectations partially mediated and also moderated the relationship between descriptive norms and behavioral intentions. Group identity and behavioral identity also moderated the relationship between descriptive norms and behavioral intentions, but the effect size was relatively small for group identity. Implications for health campaigns are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-116
Number of pages14
JournalHealth Communication
Volume23
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2008

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Social Behavior
social behavior
Alcohols
Students
Alcohol Drinking
alcohol consumption
Health Promotion
Health
Group
student
campaign
Experiments
alcohol
experiment
health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions(all)

Cite this

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