About this Research Topic
Eating behavior is affected by the social environment. For example, it has been shown that obesity spreads through social networks. One key aspect of the social environment is constituted by the norms that exist in a social group. Famous research on social norms includes Aschs classical experiments on conformity and Cialdini and colleagues well-known hotel-towel experiments. What we learned from these studies is that providing individuals with information about what other people think or do (i.e., descriptive social norms) or what other people expect them to do (i.e., injunctive social norms) can influence these individuals thoughts and behaviors. Social norms have also been found to affect eating behavior. Unfortunately however, we still know little about how and when the so-called "social norms approach" is effective, and what are the moderating and mediating variables in the context of eating behavior. Effects of social norm interventions targeted at eating behavior have been mixed, with some studies showing positive (expected) effects but others showing no or even unintended (boomerang) effects. Because of the great potential that social norms hold as a tool for improving eating behavior, improved insight into social norms' working mechanisms is urgently needed.
The purpose of this Research Topic is therefore to provide a synthesis of key publications on social norm interventions in the domain of eating behavior. We believe that a comprehensive, critical and state-of-the art examination of the social norm effect is timely, and will be both of theoretical and applied significance. The Research Topic will be specifically looking for papers that describe experimental (field) studies designed to examine mediators and/or moderators of social norm effects.
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