Events Calendar

Realigning individual behaviour with societal values

Friday, November 25, 2022
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Social Science Centre (SSC)
Room: 6210
Laura French Bourgeois

Realigning individual behaviour with societal values: The role of cognition in injunctive-norm interventions aimed at changing behaviour

Laura French Bourgeois
PhD, Université de Montreal in 2019

Friday, November 25, 2022
2:00-3:30 pm
In Person - SSC 6210

Among the most tenacious social problems of our time, many share a surprising contradiction: individuals are not acting in accordance with the most fundamental values of their society. In Canada, low voter turnout is an example of such a contradiction. In every federal election, 30 to 40% of the population fails to vote, undermining the value of voting and of democracy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant number of individuals resisted the public health recommendations aimed at limiting the spread of the virus even though good health and maintaining a functioning healthcare system are values appreciated by most.

To realign behaviour with societal values, we turn to the study of injunctive-norm interventions. These interventions advance that by making injunctive norms, the norms representing collective values, salient to a targeted group of individuals, individuals will likely change their behaviour and conform to the promoted norm. However, research has revealed that the effectiveness of these interventions is mixed. While some research confirms that injunctive norms do influence behaviour, others indicate that they either have no effect or even a negative effect (boomerang effect). To understand under what circumstances injunctive norms either positively or negatively influence behaviour, the present body of work investigates different cognitive factors that influence the relationship between injunctive norms and behavior. We find that planning, civic duty and psychological reactance are all factors that influence this relationship.

Laura French Bourgeois completed her PhD in social psychology at the Université de Montreal in 2019. She then joined the Consortium on Electoral Democracy (C-Dem) as a postdoctoral fellow. In September of this year, she began working with Vicki Esses at Western as a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow.

Her research interests focus on the effects of social norms on behaviour, especially in contexts where there is a mismatch between collective values and individual behavior such as with voting or the adhesion to the public health measures during the pandemic. Specifically, she is interested in identifying the different psychological factors that explain why individuals abide or not to social norms.

Part of the NEST Distinguished Speaker Series

Network for Economic and Social Trends
Network for Economic and Social Trends
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