Modeling the Relationship Between Perceived Descriptive Norms and Willingness to Practice COVID-19 Preventative Behaviors: A Test of the Mediation and Moderation Mechanisms in the Theory of Normative Social Behavior

Rain Wuyu Liu, Ying Cheng, Taylor Ann Foerster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Social norm has been found to impact compliance with COVID-19 preventative behaviors, including handwashing, wearing a face mask, social distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. There is, however, a limited understanding of the social norm influence mechanisms and its boundary condition in the context of COVID-19. Guided by the theory of normative social behaviors (TNSB), this study conducted an online survey (N = 336) to examine whether perceived injunctive norms (PIN), outcome expectation (OE), group identity (GID), group orientation (GO), and cultural tightness-looseness (CTL) can moderate and/or mediate the relationship between perceived descriptive norms (PDN) and behavioral intentions (BI) to perform COVID-19 preventative behaviors in the United States. Results showed that whereas OE mediated the PDN-BI relationship to enact all four focal behaviors, PIN mediated the PDN-BI relationship for social distancing, wearing a face mask, and cleaning and disinfecting. However, inconsistent with the predictions, all five moderators (i.e. PIN, OE, GO, GID, and CTL) attenuated, instead of strengthening, the PDN-BI relationships for particular preventative behaviors. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-351
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Communication
Volume39
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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