Research tools for measuring social norms

09 February 2017
Sephy Valuks

At a meeting on social norms around partner violence, researchers compared tools for social norms change and measurement.

A new Learning Group on Social Norms and Gender-based Violence was launched in 2016 by the Gender, Violence and Health Centre (GVHC) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The group held the meeting in Baltimore, USA, in collaboration with STRIVE.

Social norms are behavioural rules shared by people in a given society or group; they define what is considered “normal” and appropriate behaviour for that group. Work on attitudes and beliefs focus on the individual, but social norms operate – and can be tackled – at the group level. This approach underpins STRIVE’s intervention studies:

  • Samata – keeping girls in school
  • Samvedana Plus – addressing violence against sex workers by their intimate partners
  • Maisha – reducing partner violence through gender training and access to credit
  • Parivartan for girls – empowering girls and tackling violence through sport


In 2013 STRIVE hosted a three-day workshop to deepen understanding of social norms in theory and practice.

As summarised in a learning report and a set of talking points, the Baltimore meeting built on this wealth of resources to:

  • address some key challenges in social norms theory
  • identify and share strategies to diagnose and measure social norms
  • propose next steps