The Mechanisms of Social Norms' Influence on Consumer Decision Making Articles uri icon

publication date

  • January 2019

start page

  • 4

end page

  • 17


  • 1


  • 227

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2190-8370


  • In the past decades, marketing practitioners have embraced social norms as a powerful instrument of influencing consumers' behavior. An important distinction has been made between descriptive norms (what most others do) and injunctive norms (what others approve of), and this meta-analysis across 297 studies examines the effects of these types of social norms on consumer decision-making processes. We argue that descriptive norms directly influence behavior, and consequently that their effect on behavior should be stronger than that of injunctive norms. Injunctive norms, by contrast, should be more strongly related to intentions than descriptive norms. Results of the meta-analysis support these predictions, and furthermore provide new insights into the moderating effects of aspects of the norm (specificity of the norm, norm source) and of the target person (gender, age).


  • social norm; injunctive norm; descriptive norm; meta-analysis; decision making; planned behavior; reasoned action; descriptive norms; condom use; metaanalysis; intentions; attitudes; participation; conservation; people