Trending Norms: A Lever for Encouraging Behaviors Performed by the Minority

  • Chad R. Mortensen (Contributor)
  • Megan M. Ringel (Contributor)
  • Ryan P. Jacobson (Contributor)
  • Rebecca Neel (Contributor)
  • Robert B. Cialdini (Contributor)
  • Christine M. Jaeger (Contributor)



If many people currently engage in a behavior, others are likely to follow suit. The
current article extends research on these descriptive norms
to examine the unique effect of trending norms: norms in
which the number of people engaging in a behavior is increasing—and even if this is only
among a minority of people: trending minority norms. The
current research shows people conform more to these trending minority norms than a
minority norm alone, or a no norm control condition—even though the norms addressed
behaviors that differed from the target behavior. This demonstrates a distinct effect of
trends and a strategy for leveraging normative information to increase conformity to
behaviors not yet performed by a majority. Findings support that this increased conformity
emerges because people predict the increase in prevalence will continue. An internal
meta-analysis examining all data we collected on this topic supports these
Date made availableMar 1 2019
Publisherfigshare SAGE Publications

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