Theme 4.5 Using social proof in communication campaigns and interventions

When we are unsure of how to act or what to do, we often look around us to see what others are doing and let this guide our actions. In persuasive communication, social norms (i.e., what others do, or think we should do) are often used to influence consumer or health behavior. For instance, a company that promotes itself by emphasizing how many people like their products or services on Facebook. Or a health intervention for adolescents that stresses how common it is to discuss condom use with a new partner. Within the current theme you can study how social proof can best be used to motivate behavior change in health or marketing communication and examine when and why this is the case.

Further readings:

  • Mollen, S., Holland, R. W., Ruiter, R. A. C., Rimal, R. N., & Kok, G. (2016) When the frame fits
    the social picture. The effects of framed social norm messages on healthy and unhealthy food consumption. Communication Research (online first).
  • Mollen, S., Rimal, R. N., Ruiter, R. A. C., & Kok, G. (2013). Healthy and unhealthy social norms and food selection. Findings from a field-experiment. Appetite, 65, 83-89.
  • Phua, J., & Ahn, S. J. (2014). Explicating the ‘like’ on Facebook brand pages: The effect of intensity of Facebook use, number of overall ‘likes’, and number of friends’ ‘likes’ on consumers’ brand outcomes. Journal of Marketing Communications, 22(5), 544-559.