The Influence of Social Norms in Consumer Decision Making: a Meta-Analysis

Although social norms can substantially impact consumer decision making, understanding of how the specification of the norm determines its impact is limited. This meta-analysis (200 independent studies, 659 effect sizes) examines how aspects of social norm specification determine the effect of norms on attitudes, behavioral intentions, and behavior. It argues and shows that descriptive norms have a larger impact on behavior than injunctive norms, whereas injunctive norms have a larger impact on attitudes than descriptive norms. Effects on behavior are also stronger when norms come from close and concrete sources (vs. authority figures or abstract others) and when the behavior is public (vs. private). No effects were found for specifications of the expected behavior, the consequences, or the target person.


Vladimir Melnyk, Erica van Herpen , and Hans C. M. van Trijp (2010) ,"The Influence of Social Norms in Consumer Decision Making: a Meta-Analysis", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 463-464 .


Vladimir Melnyk, Wageningen University, the Netherlands
Erica van Herpen , Wageningen University, the Netherlands
Hans C. M. van Trijp, Wageningen University, the Netherlands


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37 | 2010

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