Recommendation

Can dynamic norm information reduce indicators of meat consumption?

based on reviews by Gabriela Jiga-Boy and 1 anonymous reviewer
A recommendation of:
toto

Communicating dynamic norms with visual cues

Abstract
Submission: posted 11 August 2021
Recommendation: posted 06 June 2022, validated 06 June 2022

Recommendation

Human meat consumption is associated with a variety of risks to health, animal welfare, sustainability, and the environment (including greenhouse gas emissions and loss of biodiversity), prompting a growing research effort to develop psychological interventions to reduce it and encourage alternative diets. At the same time, although meat consumption remains the majority choice in the UK, its prevalence is declining, with the proportion of vegetarians and vegans increasing substantially over the last two decades.
 
One potential tool to accelerate behaviour change is to expose people to “dynamic norm” messaging, which, rather than providing static descriptive information about the prevalence of a desired behaviour, emphasises how the desired behaviour is changing over time so that people can begin to conform to the emerging trend. Although promising in theory, previous research offers mixed evidence on the effectiveness of dynamic norms in encouraging a reduction in meat consumption, with some studies suggesting benefits and others showing no effect or even counterproductive effects. The methodological rigour of some studies is also in question.
 
In the present study, Aldoh et al. (2022) will investigate the effectiveness of dynamic norm information (compared to static norms) on several indicators of meat consumption, including interest, attitudes, and intentions toward reducing meat consumption, as well as self-reported meat consumption itself. Using an online sample up to 1500 participants, the authors will also test the role of visual cues (including data trend graphics) in causing any effects and will explore the potential longevity of the intervention over a period of 7 days.
 
The Stage 1 manuscript was evaluated over two rounds of in-depth review. Based on detailed responses to the reviewers' comments, the recommender judged that the manuscript met the Stage 1 criteria and therefore awarded in-principle acceptance (IPA).
 
URL to the preregistered Stage 1 protocol: https://osf.io/txzvm
 
Level of bias control achieved: Level 6. No part of the data or evidence that will be used to answer the research question yet exists and no part will be generated until after IPA. 
 
List of eligible PCI RR-friendly journals:
 
References
  
1. Aldoh, A., Sparks, P. & Harris, P. R. (2022). Communicating dynamic norm information, in principle acceptance of Version 3 by Peer Community in Registered Reports. https://osf.io/txzvm
Cite this recommendation as:
Chris Chambers (2022) Can dynamic norm information reduce indicators of meat consumption?. Peer Community in Registered Reports, . https://rr.peercommunityin.org/articles/rec?id=90
Conflict of interest:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

Evaluation round #2

DOI or URL of the report: https://osf.io/va6s7/?view_only=08eb41ba7ac948358ac8254efac17d88

Version of the report: v4

Author's Reply, 01 Jun 2022

Decision by , posted 06 Apr 2022

One of the reviewers who assessed the first submission (Gabriela Jiga-Boy) was available to assess the revised manuscript, and she did so with the assistance of a collaborator (Jenny Cole). As you will see, the evaluation is broadly very positive and we are moving closer to Stage 1 in-principle acceptance. There remain some issues to address concerning the validity and suitability of the manipulation, the justification for key methodological characteristics, and a number of minor presentational issues. Altogether these issues appear to be readily addressable through a further comprehensive revision and response. Once you have resubmitted I will accelerate the final decision for you as quickly as possible.

Please note that in addition to the review itself, the reviewer has kindly included a tracked changes version of the revised manuscript with additional comments.

Reviewed by , 06 Apr 2022

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)

            vs. 

            ‘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.

 

Kind regards,

Gabriela Jiga-Boy

Download the review

Evaluation round #1

DOI or URL of the report: https://osf.io/va6s7/?view_only=08eb41ba7ac948358ac8254efac17d88

Author's Reply, 16 Feb 2022

Decision by , posted 22 Oct 2021

Two expert reviewers have now evaluated the Stage 1 manuscript. As you will see, the reviews are constructive and encouraging, which bodes well for eventual Stage 1 in-principle acceptance (IPA). The reviewers do, however, make a range of very useful suggestions that should strengthen the rationale and methodological robustness of your study. Please note that reviewer Gabriela Jiga-Boy has kindly provided a marked-up version of your manuscript with detailed in-line comments and suggested edits.

The main issues to address in revision including clarification of key concepts and theoretical framing in the introduction, stronger justification of analysis decisions in the pilot study, consideration of the validity of the attitude measures and the attention check, and additional information about the manipulation check. In addition to the reviewers' comments, based on my own reading I would like to see greater detail presented concerning the outlier exclusion methodology (including at what level of the data, and in what sub-conditions, outliers will be excluded -- note that this description should be as comprehensive as possible to minimise any ambiguity), and please also make clear the specific meat consumption measures that are referred to in the design table.

Please revise the manuscript thoroughly in response to the reviews and be sure to include a detailed point-by-point response to all of the reviewers' comments. Provided you are able to address all concerns, the manuscript is well within range of achieving Stage 1 IPA.

Reviewed by , 15 Oct 2021

To the Editor,

Dear prof. Chambers, please find attached my review (including comments and suggestions) of the article "Communicating dynamic norm information" by Alaa Aldoh, Paul Sparks, and Peter R. Harris. I have very much enjoyed reading this work and I commend the authors' efforts to plan a piece of research that includes important techniques to conduct reproducible work. I tried to suggest various elements that could improve it. I chose to do so working directly on the Word document - my notes are visible in Track Changes.

Please let me know if you need any other information from me, or if you request my review be formatted differently. Thank you for inviting me to review this work!

Kind regards,

Gabriela

 
NOTE TO AUTHORS:

Dear authors,

My name is Gabriela Jiga-Boy and I have been invited to review your Stage 1 RR. I enjoyed very much reading about your research project, even more so because you seem to have put a lot of thought into conducting a methodologically sound piece of research; so I commend your efforts! I think it is an important topic and a very well planned study. You have provided us with a textbook in reproducible research methods!

I may have not made as many comments regarding the methods as might be expected from a Stage 1 review because they appeared sound to me. Instead, I focused more on the theoretical background, because I think there are ways to improve the relevance of your research by working on the premises, including the literature you relied on.

Because this is the first time I have reviewed a Stage 1 RR, I thought that it would be fair to say a few words about my approach: I have chosen to make comments directly on your document, because a) my mindset was more of a ‘let’s help improve the work’ than a judgmental one, and b) it was just more feasible to comment / make suggestions on various sections directly on text, instead of wasting time with providing page & paragraph numbers and then my comments, in a more formal document. Lastly, I hope you will not take my direct communication tone as a sign of arrogance, because I really liked your work and I hope that you will succeed in conducting and publishing it. I tried to get to the point as quickly as possible, knowing that time is of essence for everyone involved in this. I wish you all the best with your work, and I hope you will find some useful suggestions among those I offered.

Please see the comments and suggestions I have made, as an attached document. Thank you!

 

Kind regards,

Gabriela

Download the review

Reviewed by anonymous reviewer, 22 Oct 2021

It was a pleasure to read about this necessary study on how dynamic norms can help to change attitudes and behaviours regarding meat consumption. In general, I find the planned study well elaborated and have only few remarks (mostly regarding the measurements). Please find them  below:

 

-          p3, when referring to “ the UK meat consumption is declining and the proportions of vegans and vegetarians have doubled in the last 20 years (Baker et al., 2002).” It would be stronger to use a recent reference…

-          Small but important mistake in abstract: This longitudinal study utilizes a 2x2 between-subjects design (type of norm [dynamic/visual à static?] x visual cue [present/absent], and a no-task control)

-          All study materials seem to be available on OSF.

-          Could you made use of stronger measures for interest in, attitudes, intentions instead of one item. How valid/reliable are these measures? Same for the actual meat consumption – how strong is this measure compared to what has been used before?

-          Is it not static versus dynamic? “The study uses a 2x2 between-subjects design (type of norm [dynamic/visual] x visual cue [present/absent]) and includes an additional control group with no normative information provided”. This is also included in the abstract like this.

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