Breaking News
March 23, 2018 - Novel vaccine technologies can help better prepare for future infectious disease threats
March 23, 2018 - OncoBreak: Colonoscopy TV; Coverage for Genomic Testing; Care for Caregivers
March 23, 2018 - For some surgeries, nerve blocks mean better outcomes, fewer opioids
March 23, 2018 - Maternal obesity and androgen excess induce sex-specific anxiety in offspring, study suggests
March 23, 2018 - The tale of Theranos and the mysterious fire alarm
March 23, 2018 - Impulsivity may be associated with greater weight loss during treatment in obese children
March 23, 2018 - CTI BioPharma Announces Publication of Pacritinib Phase 3 PERSIST-2 Clinical Trial in JAMA Oncology
March 23, 2018 - Senate Panel Addresses Native Americans’ Opioid Troubles
March 23, 2018 - Brain connections in schizophrenia
March 23, 2018 - Mental health assessment in health checks can help detect psychologically vulnerable people
March 23, 2018 - Groundbreaking 100,000 Genomes Project achieves important milestone to transform NHS care
March 23, 2018 - Mice getting a new lease of life with anti-aging pills
March 23, 2018 - Obesity kills taste buds and dulls taste sensation finds study
March 23, 2018 - Medical students get less formal education in radiation oncology, study finds
March 23, 2018 - Researchers find investigational compound to treat triple negative breast cancer after brain metastasis
March 23, 2018 - Researchers develop wearable system to monitor electrical activity in the stomach over 24 hours
March 23, 2018 - A Different Opioid Crisis | Medpage Today
March 23, 2018 - PTSD an ongoing fight for generation of Iraq War vets
March 23, 2018 - Researchers uncover specific gene region in hypertension
March 23, 2018 - Specific immune cells may help slow progression of ALS, research shows
March 23, 2018 - Biosense Webster launches new ‘Power to Heal’ campaign to alleviate AF burden
March 23, 2018 - FDA could curb or ban tobacco in menthol or fruit flavoured cigarettes soon
March 23, 2018 - Mom’s Pre-Pregnancy Waist Size Tied to Autism Risk
March 23, 2018 - AMD Treat-and-Extend Regimens OK: Ophthalmology Times
March 23, 2018 - Safe-sleep recommendations for infants have not reduced sudden deaths in newborns
March 23, 2018 - Survey finds inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics for hospitalized children
March 23, 2018 - Researchers propose alternative treatment to target lymphoma signaling at its root
March 22, 2018 - Compound found in beet extract could help slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease
March 22, 2018 - Lower temperatures can trigger the body’s ‘good’ fat formation at cellular level
March 22, 2018 - Sentinel lymph node biopsies could be safely avoided for some breast cancer patients
March 22, 2018 - Combined Preeclampsia Test Superior to U.K. Standards
March 22, 2018 - Exclusive breastfeeding in hospital associated with longer breastfeeding duration
March 22, 2018 - Researchers prove link between common childhood cancer and inflammation
March 22, 2018 - Targeting aberrantly active telomerase to treat therapy-resistant melanoma
March 22, 2018 - California’s tax on millionaires yields big benefits for people with mental illness, study finds
March 22, 2018 - Weight-loss surgery reduces risk for severe chronic kidney disease and kidney failure
March 22, 2018 - Study identifies two genes associated with extreme nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
March 22, 2018 - Biohaven Enrolls First Patient In Phase 3 Clinical Trial To Evaluate Rimegepant Zydis® ODT In The Acute Treatment Of Migraine
March 22, 2018 - ‘Bionic Pancreas’ OK for Very Young T1D Patients
March 22, 2018 - Parkinson’s gene initiates disease outside of the brain
March 22, 2018 - NMSU researchers publish findings on effective measures to remedy stress among adolescents
March 22, 2018 - Immunotherapy combination increases overall survival in people with kidney cancer, study shows
March 22, 2018 - Increased rate of accidental injuries associated with poorer hearing ability
March 22, 2018 - Gut microbiome may promote pancreatic cancer by inducing immune suppression
March 22, 2018 - New ocular inserts allow patient’s cornea to absorb more antibiotics
March 22, 2018 - FDA Alert: NeuroBlate Probe by Monteris Medical: Letter to Health Care Providers, Class I Recall
March 22, 2018 - Cessation of exercise can result in increased depressive symptoms
March 22, 2018 - Morning Break: Booze Study Brouhaha; Stem Cells for MS; Big Debt Problem
March 22, 2018 - New wearable tech from Western may hold big benefits for people with Parkinson’s
March 22, 2018 - Immune cells can repopulate in the retina after elimination, mice study shows
March 22, 2018 - States extend Medicaid for birth control, cutting costs — and future enrollment
March 22, 2018 - Research provides better understanding of how cancerous cells behave in low oxygen
March 22, 2018 - Menopausal hormone therapy taken soon after menopause may benefit the brain
March 22, 2018 - Booze Boosts Your Heart Rate
March 22, 2018 - Skeptical Cardiologist: Classifying Heart Failure
March 22, 2018 - Instead of nagging your spouse to lose weight, try going on a diet yourself
March 22, 2018 - Neem Biotech to share findings on cystic fibrosis biofilm disruption at ECFS Basic Science Conference
March 22, 2018 - Study uncovers new genetic cause of posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy
March 22, 2018 - ENDO: Big Breakfast May Help in Diabetics
March 22, 2018 - I’m not overweight, so why do I need to eat healthy foods?
March 22, 2018 - UCLA-led study suggests unexpected reason for reduction in cardiovascular health disparities
March 22, 2018 - Study suggests detailed neuropsychological assessment for brief cardiac arrest survivors
March 22, 2018 - Anticoagulant drugs found safe to use in patients undergoing surgery for irregular heartbeat
March 22, 2018 - SP Industries appoints Brian Larkin as new President and CEO
March 22, 2018 - GTx Announced New Data Demonstrating Enobosarm’s Potential to Treat Stress Urinary Incontinence
March 22, 2018 - Higher Risk of Brain Deficits in Older Alcoholics
March 22, 2018 - Top US health official resigns in conflict of interest
March 22, 2018 - Study shows benefits of hair loss drug in improving cognitive function and vascular health
March 22, 2018 - Researchers explain link between 2 key Alzheimer’s proteins
March 22, 2018 - Patients on replacement therapy with thyroid hormone may have more comorbidities
March 22, 2018 - Higher online patient ratings linked to urologists who saw fewer Medicare patients
March 22, 2018 - FDA Approves Ilumya (tildrakizumab-asmn) for the Treatment of Moderate-to-Severe Plaque Psoriasis
March 22, 2018 - Beer Raises Heart Rate; KardiaBand Hyperkalemia Test; CHD Clinics
March 22, 2018 - A retinal implant that is more effective against blindness
March 22, 2018 - New system based on artificial intelligence provides reliable detection of breast cancer
March 22, 2018 - Research offers new understanding about cause of Parkinson’s disease
March 22, 2018 - HORIBA’s Microsemi CRP analyzer improves quality of care in emergency pediatric units, study shows
March 22, 2018 - Neuroscientists move closer to developing tools for deciphering brain function
March 22, 2018 - New test methods with less fear
March 22, 2018 - Range of Vaginal Dryness Products Can Help Postmenopausal Women: Study
Change behaviors by changing perception of normal

Change behaviors by changing perception of normal

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Whether it be for the environment, one’s health or other important causes, convincing people to adopt new or uncommon behaviors can be difficult. One reason is that societal norms powerfully reinforce the status quo.

Stanford researchers suggest a subtle shift in messaging can help. In new research that appeared Sept. 29 in Psychological Science, they find that focusing on how norms are changing can help people alter their behaviors.

“One question we’re interested in from a psychological standpoint,” said Gregg Sparkman, a doctoral student in psychology at Stanford and the paper’s lead author, “is how social change happens. What leads people to overturn a status quo?”

He points out that although change usually happens slowly, it does happen, and perhaps more frequently than we notice. For example, seat belt use was once a nuisance, but now it’s standard practice. Smoking in restaurants and other public places was once commonplace, but has declined.

The question for the researchers is what factors influence people to make those changes.

Dynamic vs. static norms

Past research on how social norms influence behavior has focused on seemingly static views of how most people behave, according to Greg Walton, associate professor of psychology and the study’s senior author. Sparkman and Walton’s research, however, tests how people behave when they think the norm is changing.

“Showing how norms are changing can give people a model of how they can change too, and lead to a circumstance where many people change,” said Walton.

The researchers conducted four experiments relating to meat consumption, a norm Sparkman described as “well-rooted, highly visible and something you do every day in the presence of others.” It’s also a norm that has a huge negative impact on the environment, as livestock consume large volumes of water and emit greenhouse gases.

In one experiment, participants from across the United States read two statements about eating less meat. One statement (static) described how some Americans are currently trying to eat less meat, while the other statement (dynamic) described how some Americans are changing and now eat less meat.

The participants who read the dynamic statement reported more interest in reducing their meat consumption than those who read the static one. Those participants reported anticipating that this change would continue into the future – leading them to conform to that future norm.

Another experiment tested people’s likelihood to order a meat-based lunch. People standing in line at a Stanford campus café read statements describing how some people “limit how much meat they eat” (static) or “are starting to limit how much meat they eat” (dynamic). Lunch goers who read the dynamic statement were twice as likely to order a meatless meal than those in the static group (34 percent compared to 17 percent).

Less is sometimes more

An important aspect of these studies, the researchers said, is that participants were never asked to change their behavior, or even told the benefits of doing so.

“We didn’t ask people to not eat meat or eat less meat,” Walton said. “They’re just given information about change.”

The researchers also conducted an experiment involving conserving water during the recent California drought. They posted signs in laundry facilities at high-rise residences of Stanford graduate students with static messages (“Most Stanford Residents Use Full Loads/Help Stanford Conserve Water”) or dynamic messages (“Stanford Residents Are Changing: Now Most Use Full Loads/Help Stanford Conserve Water). While the number of laundry loads were unaffected in buildings with no signs over the next three weeks, there was a 10 percent reduction among those who saw the static message, and nearly a 30 percent reduction for those who saw the dynamic message.

The next question, Sparkman said, is to see whether it is possible to apply this method to other sustainability initiatives like curbing electricity usage and promoting policy support for new laws, such as those to reduce the gender gap in wages.

“Dynamic norms may play a large role in social change,” Sparkman said. “Just learning that other people are changing can instigate all these psychological processes that motivate further change. People can begin to think that change is possible, that change is important and that in the future, the norms will be different. And then, if they become persuaded and decide to change, it starts to become a reality.”

Explore further:
First international survey on the psychology of meat consumption

More information:
Gregg Sparkman et al. Dynamic Norms Promote Sustainable Behavior, Even if It Is Counternormative, Psychological Science (2017). DOI: 10.1177/0956797617719950

Journal reference:
Psychological Science

Provided by:
Stanford University

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles