'Searching for a "generalized social agent" to predict Namibians' intentions to prevent sexual transmission of HIV

Rachel A. Smith, Linda K. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Debate surrounds the definition, measurement and utility of subjective norms (theory of reasoned action, Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). Scholars propose alternative concepts including descriptive norms and injunctive norms (Cialdini et al., 1990), enabling factors and social embeddedness (e.g. Barrera, 1986), and betweenness to others in a network (Wasserman & Faust, 1994) to explain social influences on willingness to perform a behaviour. This study explores the relative utility and comparability of different social concepts in understanding Namibians' intentions (n=1200) to abstain from sex or to be faithful to one sexual partner. Neither subjective norms nor the five other concepts consistently predict either intentions, although they account for 21% of variance in intentions to abstain and 24% of intentions to have one sexual partner in one region. Conflicting relationships between injunctive and subjective norms exist; stigma surrounding HIV prevention provides some explanation. Campaigns designed to alter norms may benefit from altering stigma simultaneously.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-243
Number of pages9
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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