Date of Completion

8-24-2011

Embargo Period

8-26-2011

Advisors

Hart Blanton; Amy Gorin

Field of Study

Psychology

Degree

Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access

Abstract

Social norms-based interventions have demonstrated efficacy as tools for behavior change interventions. Nonetheless, there is some theoretical and empirical evidence that the efficacy of injunctive norms-based appeals can be undermined by their tendency to 1) arouse psychological reactance among participants, and 2) inadvertently imply that few others are completing the target behavior. The author hypothesizes that supplementing an injunctive appeal with evidence of a supporting descriptive norm will counteract these problematic tendencies. The present research describes a test of of this hypothesis in the context of an intervention to fight H1N1 on campus. Boxes of sanitizing keyboard wipes were placed in computer lab classrooms, accompanied by signs that independently manipulated descriptive and injunctive norms with the goal of increasing uptake of the wipes. Participants were University of Connecticut undergraduate students in 18 blocks of classes (study 1) and 20 class sections (study 2). For both studies, an analysis of variance showed no significant effect of either norm manipulation on wipe uptake, and no significant interaction between norm manipulations. Pooling the data from both studies, however, revealed a marginally significant interaction between injunctive and descriptive norms. Possible explanations and implications are discussed.

MajorĀ Advisor

Jeffrey Fisher

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