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How Norms-Shifting Interventions Foster Social Norms Change: A Realist Synthesis of Four Community Level Interventions

Community-based health promotion projects look similar in that they engage with communities to foster behavior change, yet not all social and behavior change interventions are designed to explicitly lead to norms shifting. This working paper provides greater clarity on what to consider in designing norms-shifting interventions (NSIs)  so future interventions are more strategic in their norms-shifting strategies to support behavior change.

The Realist Synthesis, a form of analysis used in the evaluation of complex social interventions, compared four Passages-supported NSIs, Growing Up Great!, Girls Holistic Development, Husbands Schools, and Transforming Masculinities. All four aimed to improve adolescent health and enabling environments.  All had robust evidence that informed the realist synthesis.  Studies and evaluation research, for example, had confirmed pathways to normative and individual change predicted in program theories of change. The Realist Synthesis showed that all 4 NSIs worked strategically with trained social change agents and change mechanisms within the project activities to build and diffuse over time new ways of thinking about adolescent health, gender, and social wellbeing.  These activities with trusted community actors led to the emergence of new community change agents, including reference groups, and growing community support for behavior change.

Resource Snapshot

Year 2021

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