In the second part of our two-part article on social norms messaging, we look at the latest understanding and findings around this concept, breaking down developments over time into three stages. In part one, we looked at ‘where we were’ – how our understanding of social norms has evolved over many years of research, where we are today and what we have recently learnt. Now, in part two, we look at where we are headed next – the likely or needed directions in the future.

The future

Dynamic social norms – a new type of social norms message

Up to now, social norms messages have been based on what we might call a ‘static norm’ – what the majority of people already do. Yet there have been some interesting initial findings around what is being termed as a ‘dynamic social norm’. Research by psychologists Gregg Sparkman and Gregory Walton of Stanford University reveals that dynamic statements – focusing on changes in behaviour – can be even more encouraging than majority-based statements.