Why peer crowds matter: Incorporating youth subcultures and values in health education campaigns

Meghan Moran, Matthew W. Walker, Tesfa N. Alexander, Jeffrey W. Jordan, Dana E. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Grounded on research showing that peer crowds vary in risk behavior, several recent health behavior interventions, including the US Food and Drug Administration'sFreshEmpirecampaign, have targeted high-risk peer crowds. We establish the scientific foundations for using this approach. We introducepeer crowd targeting as a strategy for culturally targeting health behavior interventions to youths. We use social identity and social norms theory to explicate the theoretical underpinnings of this approach. We describe Fresh Empire to demonstrate how peer crowd targeting functions in a campaign and critically evaluate the benefits and limitations of this approach. By replacing unhealthy behavioral norms with desirable, healthy lifestyles, peer crowd-targeted interventions can create a lasting impact that resonates in the target audience's culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-395
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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