Knowing when to assume: Normative expertise as a moderator of social influence

Deborah L. Hall, Hart Blanton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-95
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Influence
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Conversational norms
  • Expertise
  • Message framing
  • Persuasion
  • Social norms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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