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Dynamic norms for dynamic times? An experiment on the effects of dynamic and static norms messages on COVID-19 vaccination intention


Geber, Sarah; Tribelhorn, Lukas; Hitchman, Sara C; Friemel, Thomas N (2022). Dynamic norms for dynamic times? An experiment on the effects of dynamic and static norms messages on COVID-19 vaccination intention. SCM Studies in Communication and Media, 11(3):453-476.

Abstract

Social norms messages may motivate COVID-19 preventive behaviors, such as getting vaccinated. To date, however, the research has mainly focused on the established concept of static norms and widely ignored the potential of dynamic norms. Dynamic norms convey information about how norms are developing over time and have been shown to promote change when the behavior is not yet the majority norm. The present study investigated the potential of dynamic norms in the context of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. It examined (a) the effects of static and dynamic norms messages on vaccination intention, (b) the mechanisms through which dynamic norms may influence vaccination intention, and (c) the potential of dynamic norms to increase vaccination intention of vaccine-hesitant people. We conducted a preregistered online experiment with three conditions (static norm, dynamic norm, control message) among people who were not yet vaccinated (N = 2,289, 16-60 years) in May 2021, during the early vaccine roll-out period for the general population in Switzerland. We found no effects of exposure to the static or dynamic norms messages on vaccination intention and no specific influence mechanisms of dynamic norms (e.g., via perceived future norm) - neither for participants who were willing to get vaccinated nor for the vaccine-hesitant group. However, further analyses showed that, among vaccine-hesitant participants, the normative perception that formerly vaccine-critical people were changing their minds was correlated with a stronger vaccination intention. We discuss potential reasons why social norms messages did not show an effect in our study and derive theoretical and practical implications.

Abstract

Social norms messages may motivate COVID-19 preventive behaviors, such as getting vaccinated. To date, however, the research has mainly focused on the established concept of static norms and widely ignored the potential of dynamic norms. Dynamic norms convey information about how norms are developing over time and have been shown to promote change when the behavior is not yet the majority norm. The present study investigated the potential of dynamic norms in the context of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. It examined (a) the effects of static and dynamic norms messages on vaccination intention, (b) the mechanisms through which dynamic norms may influence vaccination intention, and (c) the potential of dynamic norms to increase vaccination intention of vaccine-hesitant people. We conducted a preregistered online experiment with three conditions (static norm, dynamic norm, control message) among people who were not yet vaccinated (N = 2,289, 16-60 years) in May 2021, during the early vaccine roll-out period for the general population in Switzerland. We found no effects of exposure to the static or dynamic norms messages on vaccination intention and no specific influence mechanisms of dynamic norms (e.g., via perceived future norm) - neither for participants who were willing to get vaccinated nor for the vaccine-hesitant group. However, further analyses showed that, among vaccine-hesitant participants, the normative perception that formerly vaccine-critical people were changing their minds was correlated with a stronger vaccination intention. We discuss potential reasons why social norms messages did not show an effect in our study and derive theoretical and practical implications.

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Other titles:Dynamische Normen für dynamische Zeiten? Ein Experiment zu den Effekten dynamischer und statischer Normbotschaften auf die COVID-19-Impfabsicht
Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
08 Research Priority Programs > Digital Society Initiative
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Sociology and Political Science, Communication, Social Norms, Norm Interventions, Dynamic Norms, Descriptive Norms, COVID-19, Vaccine Hesitancy, Vaccination, Public Health
Language:English
Date:1 January 2022
Deposited On:12 Dec 2022 08:49
Last Modified:28 May 2024 01:41
Publisher:Nomos
ISSN:2192-4007
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5771/2192-4007-2022-3-453
Official URL:https://doi.org/10.5771/2192-4007-2022-3-453
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)