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International Review of Social Research

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The Ability of Narrative Communication to Address Health-related Social Norms

Meghan Bridgid Moran
  • San Diego State University
  • Email:
/ Sheila T. Murphy
  • University of Southern California
/ Lauren B. Frank
  • Portland State University
/ Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati
  • University of Southern California
Published Online: 2015-05-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/irsr-2013-0014


Social norms are an important predictor of health behavior and have been targeted by a variety of health communication campaigns. However, these campaigns often encounter challenges related to the socially specific context in which norms exist: specifically, the extent to which the target population identifies with the specific reference group depicted and the extent to which the target population believes the campaign’s message. We argue that because of its capacity to effect identification among viewers, narrative communication is particularly appropriate for impacting social norms and, consequently, behavioral intention. This manuscript presents the results of a randomized trial testing the effectiveness of two films – one narrative, one non-narrative – in changing perceived social norms and behavioral intention regarding Pap testing to detect cervical cancer. Results of the study indicate that the narrative film was in fact more effective at producing positive changes in perceived norms and intention.

Keywords: narrative communication; identification; perceived social norm; behavioral intention; cervical cancer


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-05-06

Published in Print: 2013-06-01

Citation Information: International Review of Social Research, ISSN (Online) 2069-8534, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/irsr-2013-0014. Export Citation

© Meghan Bridgid Moran et al. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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