An Introduction to Deviance-Regulation Theory: The Effect of Behavioral Norms on Message Framing

Blanton, H., Stuart, A., & VandenEijnden, R. (2001). An introduction to deviance-regulation theory: The effect of behavioral norms on message framing. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(7), 848-858. doi:10.1177/0146167201277007.

Introduces a social judgment framework the authors term deviance-regulation theory. This theory proposes that people self-regulate more on the basis of the perceived social consequences of deviating from behavioral norms than on the basis of the perceived social consequences of conforming to behavioral norms. The implications of this model were explored in the context of persuasive health communication. Four studies with 396 undergraduates serving as Ss demonstrate that health communication had its greatest effects on behavioral intention and behavioral willingness when it associated images with deviant behavioral alternatives. Thus, when participants believed their peers made healthy decisions, they were most influenced by negatively framed communication that emphasized the undesirable attributes of people who made unhealthy decisions. In contrast, when they believed their peers made unhealthy decisions, they were most influenced by positively framed communication that emphasized the desirable attributes of people who made healthy decisions.

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