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Applying behavioural science to issues of public health: the case for social norms intervention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Gary Ganz, Fergus G. Neville, Catherine L. Ward

School/Research organisations


In the effort to address behavioural risk factors – which contribute significantly to the global burden of disease – there is a growing movement in public health towards the use of interventions informed by behavioural science. These interventions have the benefit of being amenable to testing in randomised controlled trials, are cost-effective, and when scaled up can have significant public health benefits. Given the substantial, and seemingly intractable, public health crises which South Africa faces, these interventions have significant potential in this context. A subset of these interventions attempt to change behaviour by shifting social norms perception (what I think everyone else does and thinks). This paper surveys the work on social norms intervention and considers its applicability to issues of public health in South Africa.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalSouth African Journal of Science
Issue number5/6
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2017

    Research areas

  • Evidence-based intervention, Social psychology, Tobacco smoking, Interpersonal violence, Unsafe sex

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