Several of us at the USF social marketing conference got together for dinner last night at Columbia - THE Spanish/Cuban restaurant that is always a stop for me during this meeting. Great food and conversation was the result. A couple of points that came up:
Bob Marshall talked about worked they are doing at the Rhode Island DoH with nurses on increasing their own flu vaccination behaviors. The world changing result from their formative research is that many nurses state they have developed 'natural immunity' to flu and other contagious diseases as a result of their many years of exposure in their work in hospital settings. Consequently, they are already 'naturally immune' to the flu; in fact, getting a flu shot is perceived as something that might actually REDUCE their immunity. Interesting idea and something I have heard anecdotally before from health care professionals to explain their own aversion to flu vaccines. That these knowledgeable, trusted sources of information may be telling other people this same story has plenty of implications for our social marketing efforts to increase vaccination prevalence. Comes back to an idea I put forth that too many times that we ignore the audiences who are critical to our success.
Jay Kassirer, who will be doing a Saturday plenary of environmental social marketing, brought us around to the many barriers and challenges to introducing more people to behaviors that will have a more positive, or less damaging, impact on the environment. What exactly are these behaviors and why can't the experts agree on any (what would be the environmental social marketing equivalent of 5 A Day)? What do we do when the short term, immediate consequences of recycling waste, driving a hybrid car or switching to biofuels are then shown to have even greater negative environmental impacts when we look at the costs and byproducts of recyling processes, disposing of the batteries, and the clear cutting of forests to make more space to grow palm trees to produce palm oil? Looking forward to more discussions on those and other issues Saturday.
Sandra Jones and Becky Murphy from OSH/CDC are very interested in research on fear arousal and the questions of when and under what circumstances to use them in social marketing programs (a question I am hearing more and more regularly as well from practitioners). Moderate levels of arousal, perceived self efficacy of responses to mitigate the arousal, and the expected and actual consequences of actions are important elements of the process. I also wondered why so much of the 'new' fear arousal research seems to neglect the decades of research in anxiety arousal that occurred in the 1970s and 80s? And the part of the conversation about fear-based campaigns I don't see surfaced is that fear-arousal does not so much result in behavior change as it does in suppression of current behaviors. It may seem liked a nuanced or inconsequential distinEdit Post | Post | On Social Marketing and Social Change | Your Weblogs | TypePadction until you remember basic principles of operant conditioning: punishment has a temporary effect of behavior. Parents have been hearing for years that they need to focus on praise and reinforcement, not punishment, to change their children's behavior. Strip the parental frame away, and the same holds true for social marketers and health communicators too. As Jay noted however, if people turn to internal attributions and self-reinforcement to maintain alternative behaviors, then the longer term behavior change is possible. The question is how often do our programs focus on the IF? My belief: resorting to fear-based campaigns is the last step before cheating.