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Social Norms Exploration Tool (SNET)

IRH, with support from the USAID-funded Passages project and members from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Learning Collaborative to Advance Normative Change, developed the Social Norms Exploration Tool (SNET), a participatory guide and set of tools to translate theory into practical guidance to inform a social norms exploration.

Step-by-step guidance, exercises, and templates in the toolkit can help program implementers:

  • Understand social norms theory and concepts
  • Prepare staff to identify and investigate social norms
  • Engage community members using participatory learning exercises to 1) identify Reference Groups, and 2) explore social norms influencing behaviors of interest
  • Analyze information with project team and communities
  • Use findings to inform the design of norms-shifting activities and develop norms-focused evaluation tools

Are you interested in learning more about the SNET in action?

Download the pilot brief | Download the fact sheet

As the SNET has been implemented by programs around the world and across sectors, we received feedback from SNET users seeking a deeper and fuller understanding of the social norms exploration. The SNET training package — consisting of an overview document and training slides — is designed to support individuals who will lead a team implementing the SNET in one or more locations, as well as for those who will be responsible for training or coaching otherSNET leaders. Participants will come out of the training with the needed knowledge, skills, and experience to lead a social norms exploration in their work or support others to use the SNET.

Download the training package

This field-tested version of the SNET has been applied in over 15 settings and is available for use. IRH can provide distance and in-country technical assistance to organizations and projects that wish to use it. The experiences and learnings from the field-testing of the SNET will inform any final revisions for final dissemination in 2021.

Have you used the SNET? Are you interested in learning more about the SNET? Contact us at

Phase 1: Plan & Prepare

Plan & Prepare 

Phase 1 activities set the stage for a social norms exploration. Program staff are oriented to social norms thinking and examines what they already know of social norms and their influence on behavior. Program staff  also sets the objectives, selects exercises to facilitate community discussions and develops a fieldwork plan for the social norms exploration.

Phase 2: Identify Reference Groups

Identify Reference Groups

Phase 2 identifies Reference Groups — those who matter to individuals and the way they behave. After adapting the ‘My Social Networks’ exercise to the Main Population Group(s) and behaviors of interest, Program staff will visit communities to conduct speed interviews with the Main Population Group(s) to uncover answers.


Phase 3: Explore Social Norms

Explore Social Norms 

Phase 3 takes you back into communities. Program staff will adapt and create group discussion guides for the exercises you’ve chosen to explore social norms with both Main Population Groups and the now identified Reference Groups.


Phase 4: Analyze Findings

Analyze Findings

Phase 4 moves into analysis and interpretation of group discussions. This involves Program staff compiling and reviewing information to identify similarities and differences across Main Population Groups and their Reference Groups, and developing key findings, including the types and relative importance of norms in influencing behaviors of interest.


Phase 5: Apply Findings

Apply Findings 

Phase 5 applies what you have learned to your program. Depending on the social norms exploration objective(s), Program staff will reflect on how to improve the program design, determine what adjustments should be made to the program activities and monitoring or evaluation tools.

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