Cultural tightness–looseness and normative social influence in eight Asian countries: Associations of individual and collective norms with vaccination intentions

Jingyuan Shi*, Hye Kyung Kim, Charles T. Salmon, Edson C. Tandoc Jr., Zhang Hao Goh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

Rationale: Countries worldwide faced the same public health crisis that required promoting the same health behavior—vaccinations—during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, scholars have a unique opportunity to test behavioral change theories across countries with different cultural backgrounds.

Objective: Employing the extended theory of social normative behavior, this study examines the influence of individual and collective norms on COVID-19 vaccination intention across eight Asian countries. We examine how cultural tightness–looseness, defined as the degree of a culture's emphasis on norms and tolerance of deviant behavior, shapes normative social influence on COVID-19 vaccination intention.

Methods: We conducted a multicountry online survey (N = 2676) of unvaccinated individuals in China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam in May and June 2021, when COVID-19 vaccination mandates had not yet been implemented in those countries. We conducted hierarchical regression analyses with interaction terms for the total sample and then re-categorizied the eight countries as either “tight” (n = 1102) or “loose” (n = 1574) to examine three-way interactions between individual norms, collective norms, and cultural tightness-looseness.

Results: Perceived injunctive norms exerted the strongest impact of all normative factors on vaccination intention. Collective injunctive norms’ influence depended on both perceived injunctive and descriptive norms, which was larger when norms were lower (vs. higher). The interactive pattern between perceived and collective norms was more pronounced in countries with greater cultural tightness.

Conclusion: Our findings reveal nuanced patterns of how individual and collective social norms influence health behavioral decisions, depending on the degree of cultural tightness–looseness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116431
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume340
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Collective norms
  • Cultural tightness–looseness
  • Extended theory of normative social behavior
  • Perceived norms
  • Vaccination intention

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