Can Media Change Social Norms on Abortion and Domestic Violence?

Research Method

Randomized Controlled Trial

Country

Uganda

Co-Authors

Donald Green, Susanne Baltes, Anna Wilke

Partners

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA Uganda), Peripheral Vision International (PVI)

Research Question

Can short videos portraying social norms shift norms and attitudes on controversial issues such as abortion and domestic violence?

Research Method

Randomized Controlled Trial

Background

To what extent do dramatized portrayals of social issues affect what audiences in developing countries think and do? Using a novel experimental paradigm, we assess the effects of direct and indirect exposure to video dramas on domestic violence, abortion, and teacher absenteeism in 168 Ugandan villages. Each video series, which featured Ugandan actors in Luganda-language vignettes, sought to model and articulate prescriptive social norms, such as the idea that intimate partner violence is never acceptable or that women who face post-abortion medical complications should be helped rather than ostracized. A range of outcomes is measured via a seemingly unrelated survey several weeks later.