Skip to main content

Which communication channels shape normative perceptions about buying local food? An application of social exposure

Abstract

We examined how information from multiple communication channels can inform social norms about local food purchasing. The concept of social exposure was used as a guide. Social exposure articulates how information in social, symbolic, and physical environments contributes to normative perceptions. Data was collected from a sample in Wisconsin. Results indicated that information from communication channels representing symbolic, social, and physical environments all contributed to normative perceptions. We also found that for individuals who frequent farmers’ markets, information from some communication channels was relatively less strongly associated with injunctive norms. It may be that when first-hand, experiential information is available to inform norms, individuals rely less on information available through other communication channels. Future work might further explore how farmers’ markets foster information sharing in communities, as such information may contribute to normative perceptions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  • Alkon, A. H., and C. G. McCullen. 2011. Whiteness and farmers markets: Performances, perpetuations contestations? Antipode 43 (4): 937–959.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Armitage, C. J., and M. Conner. 2001. Efficacy of the theory of planned behaviour: A meta-analytic review. British Journal of Social Psychology 40: 471–499.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Aucoin, M., and M. Fry. 2015. Growing local food movements: Farmers’ markets as nodes for products and community. The Geographical Bulletin 56: 61–78.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beaudoin, C. E. 2014. The mass media and adolescent socialization: A prospective study in the context of unhealthy food advertising. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 91 (3): 544–561.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Berkowitz, A. D. 2005. An overview of the social norms approach. In Changing the culture of college drinking: A socially situated health communication campaign, eds. L. C. Lederman, and L. P. Stewart, 193–214. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boyles, J. L. 2017. Building an audience, bonding a city: digital news production as a field of care. Media, Culture, & Society 39 (7): 945–959.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Byker, C., J. Shanks, S. Misyak, and E. Serrano. 2012. Characterizing farmers’ market shoppers: A literature review. Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition 7 (1): 38–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Campbell, J. M. 2013. Muy local: Differentiating Hispanic and Caucasian shoppers of locally produced foods in US grocery. Journal of retailing and Consumer Services 20 (3): 325–333.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carpenter, C. J., and C. S. Amaravadi. 2016. A big data approach to assessing the impact of social norms: Reporting one’s exercise to a social media audience. Communication Research 1–14.

  • Cialdini, R. B., L. J. Demaine, B. J. Sagarin, D. W. Barrett, K. Rhoads, and P. L. Winter. 2006. Managing social norms for persuasive impact. Social Influence 1 (1): 3–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cialdini, R. B., R. R. Reno, and C. A. Kallgren. 1990. A focus theory of normative conduct: Recycling the concept of norms to reduce littering in public places. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 58 (6): 1015–1026.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cicatiello, C., B. Pancino, S. Pascucci, and S. Franco. 2015. Relationship patterns in food purchase: Observing social interactions in different shopping environments. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (1): 21–42.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Conner, D., K. Colasanti, R. B. Ross, and S. B. Smalley. 2010. Locally grown foods and farmers markets: Consumer attitudes and behaviors. Sustainability 2: 742–756.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Demarque, C., L. Charalambides, D. J. Hilton, and L. Waroquier. 2015. Nudging sustainable consumption: The use of descriptive norms to promote a minority behavior in a realistic online shopping environment. Journal of Environmental Psychology 43: 166–174.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Detre, J. D., T. B. Mark, and B. M. Clark. 2010. Understanding why college-educated Millennials shop at farmers markets: An analysis of students at Louisiana State University. Journal of Food Distribution Research 41 (3): 14–24.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dillman, D. A. 1991. The design and administration of mail surveys. Annual Review of Sociology 17: 225–249.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dodds, R., M. Holmes, V. Arunsopha, N. Chin, T. Le, S. Maung, and M. Shum. 2014. Consumer choice and farmers’ markets. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 27: 397–416.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dowd, K., and K. J. Burke. 2013. The influence of ethical values and food choice motivations on intentions to purchase sustainably sourced foods. Appetite 69: 137–144.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dunwoody, S., and R. J. Griffin. 2014. The role of channel beliefs in risk information seeking. In Effective risk communication, eds. J. Arvai, and L. Rivers, III, 220–233. Abingdon, England: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Durham, C. A., R. P. King, and C. A. Roheim. 2009. Consumer definitions of “locally grown” for fresh fruits and vegetables. Journal of Food Distribution Research 40 (1): 56–62.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eisinga, R., M. te Grotenhuis, and B. Pelzer. 2013. The reliability of a two-item scale: Pearson, Cronbach, or Spearman-Brown? International Journal of Public Health 58 (4): 637–642.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eriksson, K., P. Strimling, and J. C. Coultas. 2015. Bidirectional associations between descriptive and injunctive norms. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 129: 59–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Feldmann, C., and U. Hamm. 2015. Consumers’ perceptions and preferences for local food: A review. Food Quality and Preference 40: 152–164.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gelfand, M. J., and J. R. Harrington. 2015. The motivational force of descriptive norms: For whom and when are descriptive norms most predictive of behavior. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46 (10): 1273–1278.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Green, T., and J. Peloza. 2014. Finding the right shade of green: The effect of advertising appeal type on environmentally friendly consumption. Journal of Advertising 43 (2): 128–141.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ho, S. S., T. Poorisat, R. L. Neo, and B. H. Detenber. 2014. Examining how presumed media influence affects social norms and adolescents’ attitudes and drinking behavior intents in rural Thailand. Journal of Health Communication 19 (3): 282–302.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Honkanen, P., and J. A. Young. 2015. What determines British consumers’ motivation buy sustainable seafood? British food Journal 117 (4): 1289–1302.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kim, S., J. Yoon, and I. Choi. 2016. What matters to promote consumers’ intention to patronize sustainable business-and-industry (B&I) food services? British Food Journal 118 (11): 2710–2731.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kollmuss, A., and J. Agyeman. 2002. Mind the gap: Why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behavior? Environmental Education Research 8 (3): 239–260.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kumar, A., and S. Smith. 2018. Understanding local food consumers: Theory of planned behavior and segmentation approach. Journal of Food Products Marketing 24 (2): 196–215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ladwig, P., K. E. Dalrymple, D. Brossard, D. A. Scheufele, and E. A. Corley. 2012. Perceived familiarity or factual knowledge? Comparing operationalizations of scientific understanding. Science and Public Policy 39 (6): 761–774.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Litt, D. M., and M. L. Stock. 2011. Adolescent alcohol-related risk cognitions: The roles of social norms and social networking sites. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 25 (4): 708–771.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Low, S. A., A. Adalja, E. Beaulieu, N. Key, S. Martinez, A. Melton, … and B. B. R. Jablonski. 2015. Trends in U.S. local and regional food systems. United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. AP-068. https://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/pub-details/?pubid=42807. Accessed 1 July 2018.

  • Mead, E. L., R. N. Rimal, R. Ferrence, and J.E. Cohen. 2014. Understanding the sources of normative influence on behavior: The example of tobacco. Social Science and Medicine 115: 139–143.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Miller, D. T., and D. A. Prentice. 1996. The construction of social norms and standards. In Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles, eds., E. T. Higgins, and A. W. Kruglanski, 799–829. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller, D. T., and D. A. Prentice. 2016. Changing norms to change behavior. Annual Review of Psychology 67: 339–361.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Missouri Census Data Center. 2016. American Community Survey Standard Profile Extract Assistant. http://mcdc.missouri.edu. Accessed 1 July 2018.

  • Mollen, S., R. N. Rimal, R. A. C. Ruiter, and G. Kok. 2013. Healthy and unhealthy social norms and food selection. Findings from a field-experiment. Appetite 65: 83–89.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mou, Y., and C. A. Lin. 2015. Exploring podcast adoption intention via perceived social norms, interpersonal communication, and theory of planned behavior. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 59 (3): 475–493.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nurse Rainbolt, G., Y. Onozaka, and D. Thilmany McFadden. 2012. Consumer motivations and buying behavior: The case of the local food system movement. Journal of Food Products Marketing 18 (5): 385–396.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Onozaka, Y., G. Nurse, and D. Thilmany McFadden. 2011. Defining sustainable food market segments: Do motivations and values vary by shopping locale? American Journal of Agricultural Economics 93 (2): 583–589.

    Google Scholar 

  • Payne, C. R., and M. Niculescu. 2012. Social meaning in supermarkets as a direct route to improve parents’ fruit and vegetable purchases. Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 41: 124–137.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Priebe, C. S., and K. S. Spink. 2012. Using messages promoting descriptive norms to increase physical activity. Health Communication 27 (3): 284–291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Prinsen, S., D. T. de Ridder, and E. de Vet. 2013. Eating by example. Effects of environmental cues on dietary decisions. Appetite 70: 1–5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rice, J. S. 2015. Privilege and exclusion at the farmers market: Findings from a survey of shoppers. Agriculture and Human Values 32 (1): 21–29.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rimal, R. N., and M. K. Lapinski. 2015. A re-explication of social norms, ten years later. Communication Theory 25 (4): 393–409.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rimal, R. N., and K. Real. 2005. How behaviors are influenced by perceived norms. A test of the theory of normative social behavior. Communication Research 32 (3): 389–414.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Robinson, R., and C. Smith. 2002. Psychosocial and demographic variables associated with consumer intention to purchase sustainably produced foods as defined by the Midwest Food Alliance. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 34 (6): 316–325.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rovai, A. P., J. D. Baker, and M. K. Ponton. 2014. Social science research design and statistics. Chesapeake, VA: Watertree Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shulman, H. C., N. Rhodes, E. Davidson, R. Ralston, L. Borghetti, and L. Morr. 2017. The state of the field of social norms research. International Journal of Communication 11: 1192–1213.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sirieix, L., M. Delanchy, H. Remaud, L. Zepeda, and P. Gurviez. 2013. Consumers’ perceptions of individual and combined sustainable food labels: A UK pilot investigation. International Journal of Consumer Studies 37 (2): 143–151.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, A., and M. Anderson. 2018. Social media use in 2018. Pew Research Center. http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/. Accessed 7 Jan 2019.

  • Sommer, R., J. Herrick, and T. R. Sommer. 1981. The behavioral ecology of supermarkets and farmers’ markets. Journal of Environmental Psychology 1 (1): 13–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Spartz, J. T., L. Y.-F. Su, R. Griffin, D. Brossard, and S. Dunwoody. 2017. YouTube, social norms and perceived salience of climate change in the American mind. Environmental Communication 11 (1): 1–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tankard, M. E., and E. L. Paluck. 2016. Norm perception as a vehicle for social change. Social Issues and Policy Review 10 (1): 181–211.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Trauger, A., C. Sachs, M. Barbercheck, K. Brasier, and N. E. Kiernan. 2010. Our market is our community”: Women farmers and civic agriculture in Pennsylvania, USA. Agriculture and Human Values 27 (1): 43–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • USDA. 2016. USDA releases results of first local food marketing practices survey. https://www.nass.usda.gov/Newsroom/archive/2016/12_20_16.php. Accessed 1 July 2018.

  • Vassallo, M., M. L. Scalvedi, and A. Saba. 2016. Investigating psychological determinants in influencing sustainable food consumption in Italy. International Journal of Consumer Studies 40 (4): 422–434.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Walker, R. E., C. R. Keane, and J. G. Burke. 2010. Disparities and access to healthy food in the United States: A review of food deserts literature. Health and Place 16 (5): 876–884.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wenzig, J., and T. Gruchmann. 2018. Consumer preferences for local food: Testing an extended norm taxonomy. Sustainability 10 (5): 1313.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Witzling, L., B. Shaw, and M. S. Amato. 2015. Incorporating information exposure into a theory of planned behavior model to enrich understanding of proenvironmental behavior. Science Communication 37 (5): 551–574.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wolf, M. M., A. Spittler, and J. Ahern. 2005. A profile of farmers’ market consumers and the perceived advantages of produce sold at farmers’ markets. Journal of Food Distribution Research 36: 192–201.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yzer, M. 2013. Reasoned action theory: Persuasion as belief-base s behavior change. In The SAGE handbook of persuasion: Developments in theory and practice, eds. J. P. Dillard, and L. Shen, 120–136. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the University of Wisconsin-Consortium for Extension and Research in Agriculture and Natural Resources (Grant Number 101-PRJ83IG). The researchers thank the UW-Extension Community Food Systems Team, FairShare CSA Coalition, and the food systems practitioners, farmers, and colleagues who offered insight during survey development.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Laura Witzling.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Witzling, L., Shaw, B. & Trechter, D. Which communication channels shape normative perceptions about buying local food? An application of social exposure. Agric Hum Values 36, 443–454 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-019-09926-1

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-019-09926-1

Keywords

  • Local food
  • Farmers market
  • Social exposure
  • Social norms