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Recent years have seen an upsurge in interest in social norms and their application in solving complex public health problems. While the number of theories, papers, and programs related to social norms is burgeoning, there is not yet a consensus or common standard about what actually constitutes a social norm change approach and how this differs from other related forms of community-based programming.

This background paper reviews available literature on social norm change theory and programming, with a focus on public health, in an effort to answer critical questions about what constitutes a “social norm change approach.”