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BMC Public Health. 2014 Jul 31;14:778. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-778.

Is anybody doing it? An experimental study of the effect of normative messages on intention to do physical activity.

Author information

1
Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Joint Research Centre, European Commission, Calle Inca Garcilaso 3, 41092 Seville, Spain. rene.van-bavel@ec.europa.eu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The study explores whether messages about the physical activity levels of the majority (i.e. normative messages) affect young adults' intention to engage in regular physical activity.

METHODS:

An experimental survey among 16 to 24 year-olds in Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania (n = 1200) was conducted in March 2013. A control group received no message; one treatment group was told that the majority was physically active (positive message); and another treatment group was told that the majority was not physically active (negative message).

RESULTS:

Both the positive and (unexpectedly) the negative normative messages showed a significant and positive effect on intention to be physically active. There was no difference between the effects of the messages.

CONCLUSIONS:

Normative messages affect intention, which is encouraging for public health campaigns. The effect of the positive message confirms previous findings on conformity to the norm; the effect of the negative message is unexpected and requires further research to be understood.

PMID:
25082214
PMCID:
PMC4139606
DOI:
10.1186/1471-2458-14-778
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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