Moving toward a theory of normative influences: How perceived benefits and similarity moderate the impact of descriptive norms on behaviors

Rajiv N. Rimal, Maria K. Lapinski, Rachel J. Cook, Kevin Real

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In recent years researchers have focused attention on understanding the role of normative factors in influencing behaviors. Although there is some evidence to support the idea that restructuring normative beliefs can result in behavior change, the norms literature is largely silent about how or why this influence occurs. The theory of normative social behavior describes the moderators of the descriptive norm-behavior relationship. Through a 2 (descriptive norms: high or low) x 2 (perceived benefits: high or low) x 2 (similarity: high or low) between-subjects experiment (N = 174), we tested whether these cognitive mechanisms moderated the norms-behavior link. Results indicated that descriptive norms do not exert a direct influence on behavior. Rather, perceived benefits moderated the relationship between descriptive norms and behavioral intention and perceived similarity moderated the relation between descriptive norms and self-efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-450
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of health communication
Volume10
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences

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