Guest lecture: The potential of social norms for crisis communication – Learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic

Published on September 29, 2022 – On the 21st of September, Sarah Geber (Senior Research and Teaching Associate in the Department of Communication and Media Research at the University of Zurich, Switzerland) gave a guest lecture at ASCoR entitled “The potential of social norms for crisis communication – Learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic”. 

In her lecture, Geber presented a theoretical model on the topic of social norms and communication in times of crisis (such as the Covid-19 pandemic). She theorized that communication and messages conveyed in the media have an impact on the perceived social norms in the population, which subsequently influence our behaviours. This was tested, among others, in the large-scale Swiss study ‘Covid Norms’, conducted between September 2020 – August 2022 – of which Geber is a co-principal investigator. The study found evidence that, in Switzerland, media has impacted the social norms in the population regarding vaccination uptake. More information about the ‘Covid Norms’ study can be found here:

Geber ended her guest lecture with several key insights and suggestions for future research, such as the importance of taking into account the role of culture and social contexts when analyzing how media and communication shape social norms perceptions during (health) crises. Moreover, she emphasized that it is essential to not become ‘tired’ of research about the Covid-19 pandemic from a social science perspective, but that we need to continue to conduct such research in order to contribute to better crisis preparedness.

More information about the research of Sarah Geber can be found here: