Social norms signal appropriate behavior and are classed as behavioral expectations or rules within a group of people (Dolan et al., 2010). Social norms of exchange, such as reciprocity, are different from market exchange norms (Ariely, 2008). Normative feedback (e.g. how one’s energy consumption level compares to the regional average) is often used in behavior change programs (Allcott, 2011). Feedback utilized to induce behavior change can either be descriptive, representing majority behavior for the purpose of comparison, or injunctive, communicating approved or disapproved behavior. The latter is often more effective when an undesirable behavior is prevalent (Cialdini, 2008).
Allcott, H. (2011). Social norms and energy conservation. Journal of Public Economics, 95(5), 1982-2095.
Ariely, D. (2008). Predictably Irrational. New York: Harper Collins.
Cialdini, R.B. (2008). Influence: Science and Practice, 5th ed. Boston: Pearson.
Dolan, P., Hallsworth, M., Halpern, D., King, D., & Vlaev, I. (2010). MINDSPACE: Influencing behaviour through public policy. London, UK: Cabinet Office.