When norms collide: Normative conflict in the processing of public service announcements

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The effectiveness of public service announcements (PSAs) may be compromised by conflicting messages communicated by program material and commercial advertisements. For example, PSAs that invoke an injunctive norm against alcohol abuse by young people may be viewed in the context of alcohol consumption depicted in program content and alcohol advertising. In effect, a conflict of norms may be created in which societal prescriptions of how young people ought to behave are offset by descriptions of how people actually behave with respect to products such as alcohol or cigarettes and behaviors such as safe sex or healthy eating. In the current research, norm theory and information processing theory are combined to suggest hypotheses regarding the effectiveness of PSAs in the presence or absence of normative conflict. Two studies use print media to perform initial tests of these hypotheses. Finally, the implications of the results for public policy, health promotion, media planning, and further study are explored.
Advertising, Public service, Normative conflict, Consumer processing
Bernthal, M. J., Rose, R. L., & Kaufman, P. (2006). When norms collide: Normative conflict in the processing of public service announcements. Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, 16(1/2), 21–39. https://doi.org/10.1300/J054v16n01_02