The State of the Field of Social Norms Research

Hillary C. Shulman, Nancy Rhodes, Emily Davidson, Rachel Ralston, Lorraine Borghetti, Lindsey Morr


This investigation provides a synthesis of the state of social norm research in the social sciences using a content analysis of 821 empirical studies that employed social norms as a primary construct. Questions guiding this analysis included: What theories are most often used in social norms research? What types of social norms are used most often in research? What referents are typically used in social norm measures? What topics are typically investigated with social norms? What outcomes are frequently associated with social norms? And what ages and in what countries are norms commonly studied? By highlighting the trends in this vast area, it is hoped that future work can focus on integrating and advancing theory in this popular domain of communication research.


social norms, theory of planned behavior, theory of reasoned action, content analysis, theory building

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