Knowing when to assume: Normative expertise as a moderator of social influence Academic Article uri icon


  • Research has demonstrated that the frame of a persuasive communication can influence message recipients' normative assumptions: Messages that encourage desired outcomes imply that desired behaviors are relatively uncommon, whereas messages that discourage undesired outcomes imply that undesired behaviors are uncommon. When behavioral norms influence decisions, this process can cause negatively framed communications to exert more influence than positively framed communications. We tested an important moderator of this effect in the context of health communications. We show in three studies that message frames affect normative beliefs to a greater degree when the communicators appear to have insight into surrounding norms, or "normative expertise." As a result, more informed communicators can become less effective agents of influence if they encourage desired behaviors rather than discourage undesired ones.

published proceedings

  • Social Influence

author list (cited authors)

  • Hall, D. L., & Blanton, H.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Hall, Deborah L||Blanton, Hart

publication date

  • January 2009