NEW PODCAST: Changing Ingrained Social Norms with the right messenger
Celebrities, Priests and Friends: Changing Ingrained Social Norms Is Possible with the Right Messenger
Even though scientists, doctors and experts constantly bombard us with well-meant advice about how we should live healthily and sustainably, this has surprisingly very little effect on our behavior. Until we see our friends, coworkers, or people we admire adopt new behaviors – being childfree, going vegan, or giving up a car – we will be reluctant to do any of these things for the fear that it would be socially unacceptable or just too difficult. Whether these role models are religious authorities who make it okay to use contraception, famous bodybuilders who are also vegan, or soap opera characters who support girls’ education, they wield power over their audience and can make healthier and more sustainable social norms more acceptable.
To learn why, we interviewed William Ryerson, the Founder and President of Population Media Center, and touched on these topics:
- Why making people into experts on sustainability or climate change through informational campaigns has little impact on changing their behavior
- Why real and fictional charismatic leaders can bring about change in communities and make it socially acceptable to adopt new norms
- How social norms work and how their perception influences our behaviors
- How serialized dramas can be used to change social norms on a large scale
- Why certain norms take longer to change than others and what needs to happen so they change permanently
William Ryerson is the Founder and President of Population Media Center. He has more than 50 years of experience working in the field of reproductive health, including three decades of experience with social and behavior change communications.