“This research shows that the reward system has an important function in helping behavior and if we want to increase the likelihood of pro-social behavior, we must reinforce a sense of belonging more than a sense of empathy.
a measurement instrument for evaluating susceptibility to seven social influence principles, namely social learning, social comparison, social norms, social facilitation, social cooperation, social competition, and social recognition
IRH, with support from the USAID-funded Passages project and members from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Learning Collaborative to Advance Normative Change, developed the Social Norms Exploration Tool (SNET), a participatory guide and set of tools to translate theory into practical guidance to inform a social norms exploration.
Download the Social Norms Exploration Tool
Step-by-step guidance, exercises, and templates in the toolkit can help program implementers:
Understand social norms theory and concepts
Prepare staff to identify and investigate social norms
Engage community members using participatory learning exercises to 1) identify Reference Groups, and 2) explore social norms influencing behaviors of interest
Analyze information with project team and communities
Use findings to inform the design of norms-shifting activities and develop norms-focused evaluation tools
Addressing the Social Proof Question
The online fundraising team often receives questions and comments about the use of negative social proof in our fundraising messages. Social proof is the phenomenon that people are prone to copy the actions of others; for example, if an individual is exposed to a group of people doing or buying something, they are more likely to do so themselves.
One of the most recognizable phrases in our fundraising banners takes the opposite approach, stating:
“... fewer than 1% of readers give.”
“... 99% of readers don’t give.”
The online fundraising team has tested, dozens of times, removing this fact from our materials. Our donation rate drops when we try. This past year we engaged with some experts in the field and asked them to explore further why we consistently see this finding. Is there something about a non-profit or a donation context that alters the rules of social proof? We plan on continuing to conduct tests this coming year in hopes of finding conclusions around the fundraising and non-profit context of social proof.
Aspirational Communication, an approach that seeks to motivate and mobilize people to support a cause by connecting it to the audience’s aspirations for their own lives. I specifically suggest a six-step framework based on the approach that can help social movements to drive durable attitude change.
Government and environmentalists need to understand this. To achieve change, you needn’t legislate so everyone adopts new behaviours simultaneously: you simply need to ensure every desirable new behaviour (veganism, installing solar panels, not flying when you can travel by train) reaches that level where it no longer looks weird. If just 10 per cent of attendees refuse to fly to a meeting, it becomes essential to offer videoconferencing, at which point a further 10 per cent will opt to attend the meeting remotely. If 10 per cent start taking trains to Frankfurt, it will pay to launch a European sleeper train service, at which point another 10 per cent will take the train. Once someone on your street has solar panels, you’ll feel happier installing your own.
The biggest single influence on whether people drink Guinness in a pub is whether there is already someone in the pub drinking Guinness. A lot of socially beneficial behaviours work the same way. It’s not that we don’t want to do them — we do. We just don’t want to be the weirdo who does it first.
“The number of clean vehicles on our roads is increasing but we don’t notice, as it’s difficult to tell clean vehicles apart from more polluting ones. Green number plates make these vehicles, and our decision to drive in a more environmentally friendly way, more visible on roads.
“We think making the changing social norm noticeable will help encourage more of us to swap our cars for cleaner options.”
Directing drivers to “think of themselves” successfully led to far more drivers switching off their idling engines: More drivers switched off their engines in the private self-focused condition (51%) compared with the baseline condition (20%).
“The odds ratios revealed that drivers were 1.83 times more likely to switch off their engines in the instructive watching eyes condition, and 4.82 times more likely in the private self-focus condition than in the baseline condition,” Meleady and colleagues write.
Two examples of campaigns tackling misbeliefs - one addressing misperceptions of the likelihood of an event (girls contracting HIV in South Africa) and one addressing misperceptions of social norms (women working outside the home in Saudi Arabia):
The Rwandan prescription for Depression: Sun, drum, dance, community. “We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave. They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better, there was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again, there was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy, there was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again. Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave.” ~A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression.
Social networks provide a powerful approach for health behavior change. This article documents how social network interventions have been successfully utilized for a range of health behaviors including HIV risk practices, smoking, exercise, dieting, family planning, bullying, and mental health. We review the literature that suggests relationship between health behaviors and social network attributes demonstrate a high degree of specificity. The article then examines hypothesized social influence mechanisms including social norms, modeling, and social rewards and the factors of social identity and social rewards that can be employed to sustain social network interventions. Areas of future research avenues are highlighted, including the need to examine and analytically adjust for contamination and social diffusion, social influence versus differential affiliation, and network change. Use and integration of mhealth and face-to-face networks for promoting health behavior change are also critical research areas.
Consider three levels: literal, liberal & lateral.
Example: social proof...
Literal: share the percentage of people who follow the norm in general
Liberal: tailor the claims to what “people like them“ do
Lateral: suggest popularity rather than stating it
The results suggest that there was no significant difference in compliance rates between treatment and control schools six months post-treatment. To our knowledge, it is the first randomized controlled trial evaluating the use of descriptive social norms in increasing immunization compliance rates in a school-based setting. In addition, it serves as an example of embedding a behaviorally-informed experiment in a government program utilizing high-quality administrative data.
Especially striking was something that I was not surprised by but had never heard explained before: the idea that groups conform, but always in a specific direction. They always become more extreme. They never move towards the middle. Sunstein addresses the phenomenon by describing relevant research. He writes:
The effect of group deliberation was to shift individual opinions toward extremism. Group “verdicts” on climate change, affirmative action, and same-sex unions were more extreme than the predeliberation average of group members. In addition, the anonymous views of individual members became more extreme, after deliberation, than were their anonymous views before they started to talk.
We see this phenomenon everywhere, especially social media, but the simple principle of conformity by itself doesn’t explain it. If a group conforms over time, shouldn’t their new views converge on the original group mean? Wouldn’t people’s views be just as likely to become more moderate than more extreme? The answer, of course, is no. Why? Because someone with more extreme views is usually more outspoken or passionate about those views, and that looks to most people like confidence. And we tend to conform to the views of those who seem more confident. Maybe Facebook isn’t the best place to form our political opinions.
"My little pitch is that a social movement worth celebrating doesn't only un-falsify people's preferences and unleash them to say what they actually think. It also casts a fresh light on the past. It doesn't just elicit preexisting judgement, it produces new ones."
Overall, our research showed that the cognitive mechanisms of goal contagion might not be sufficient to elicit prosocial behavior in a person observing every day helping. Even though observers inferred the prosocial goal, they did not act on it when given the opportunity. For now, it remains unclear whether goal contagion is limited to specific kinds of goals—not including a prosocial goal—or whether other factors hindered the effect in our studies.