6 April 2022
Re: Communicating dynamic norms with visual cues
Dear Professor Chambers and dear authors,
I have reviewed the changes made to the Stage 1 Registered Report submission “Communicating dynamic norms with visual cues” by Alaa Aldoh, Paul Sparks and Peter R. Harris. I would like to thank the authors for responding to the commentaries or requests for chances that I had on their first submission and commend them for addressing these issues! I think we’re getting very close.
I am attaching the manuscript with a few questions. I have resolved the previous threads made of my comments and the authors’ response, where the issue had been addressed. The comments I have inserted at this stage should be relatively easy to address, but I think they are important nevertheless because they can strengthen the planned research presented here.
In particular, my main worry regards the manipulation planned for this study. On reading the pilot study conducted, I noticed that the manipulations used (also manipulations to be used in the actual study) might be problematic. I have accessed the manipulations used in the pilot on OSF and I noticed that the dynamic norm condition told participants info about how the norm of eating meat HAS CHANGED:
Dynamic norm condition: “In 2020, 33% of British people - a figure increasing every year over the previous 5 years [my highlight] - successfully engaged in one or more of the following behaviours to eat less meat …”
While the static norm condition included the following instructions:
Static norm condition: “In 2020, 33% of British people - roughly the same figure as in the previous 5 years - successfully engaged in one or more of the following behaviours to eat less meat…”
However, to my understanding of the dynamic norms literature, dynamic norms should reflect HOW NORMS ARE CHANGING, not (only) how the norms have changed in the last few years. And if I understood your paper correctly, your dynamic norm manipulation was meant to reflect that the number of people engaging in the behaviour of eating less meat IS INCREASING. But this information was not necessarily conveyed in the Pilot manipulation (or in the manipulations to be used in the study), and this might explain the Pilot overall null results - and can be a line explored in the Discussion. So I think that a reference to the future trends need to be included in the instructions, otherwise this instruction will not reflect a trend in the norm changing over the years, but it will only state a stage that’s been achieved so far – and participants might assume this could stop, as any previous trends (e.g., fashion, overall consumption) might indeed disappear. For example, the instructions could be something like (my suggestions are in red):
Dynamic norm condition: “In 2020, 33% of British people - a figure that’s been increasing every year over the previous 5 years and that looks likely to continue increasing in the next decade - have successfully been engaging in one or more of the following behaviours to eat less meat …”
· Eating small portions of meat
· Opting out of eating meat several days of the week
· Adopting a vegan/vegetarian diet”
· Taking part in Veganuary-style events*
*perhaps another example participants might find easy to accept, given the popularity and media attention to these events?
I copied below the reminder of the most substantive notes:
Page 7, Hypothesis 3: Is any of your hypotheses testing the interaction between visual cue (present v. absent) and type of norm (static v. dynamic)? So far, I don’t think I have seen any such hypothesis. I mean, this might not be on your list of priorities, but since you started by comparing static and dynamic norms, I am wondering if the next logical step for that comparison is to see if it’s exacerbated by the inclusion of visual cues? I feel it’s a type of information that’s unnecessary to miss, since you’ll have all the tools to test the data for it.
Page 8, first para: I think there’s something missing here: you not only investigated the influence of dynamic (compared to static) norms, you investigated how dynamic norms COUPLED WITH visual cues fare compared to static norms coupled with visual cues. So I don’t see why this shouldn’t be specified more clearly. If you had only tested the influence of dynamic norms, the visual cue would not have been necessary. - but as it was included, it needs to be justified, or at least acknowledged.
Page 9, Table 1: The commentary I have made originally has been answered by the authors (thank you!), but I had another thought:
Thanks for providing this explanation! But I still don’t understand the justification: did the other measures (interest in reducing meat consumption and attitudes) not correlate with intentions and expectations? (there’s no info on which measures correlated with which) If they did not, that’s rather strange, as they typically do. And if they did, why not combining all of them? To me, it’s unclear why one would combine measures of such distinct concepts - what’s the necessity?
Page 10, last para: I think it would be worth running a comprehension or fluency of processing test on the following formulations:
‘more British people are eating less meat’ (used in your manipulations)
‘less British people are eating meat’.
The latter looks easier/more fluent to process, and ease of processing affects unrelated judgments, so harder to process statements will detrimentally impact the DVs due to their processing, not their actual content. If you chose to use the latter, or course the visual cues would need to be adapted, but I think it could be worth the effort if it ensures that people are more responsive to this kind of framing.
I hope that these notes are useful, and I wish the authors all the best with their research plans! I completed this review with the assistance of my collaborator Dr. Jenny Cole, Postdoctoral Scholar in Social Psychology at Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management.
Download the review