Food for the Hungry Logo Barrier Analysis: A Tool for Improving Behavior Change Communication in Child Survival and Community Development Programs
Background Information
What is Barrier Analysis
Behavior change theory
Seeing the need
Fisherman story
Seven steps
The "Exercise" exercise
How to Conduct Barrier Analysis

Masai villagers shaking hands

  Perceived Social Acceptability

"Is the preventive action socially acceptable?”

Another determinant to consider is whether or not people believe that the action is socially acceptable to their community, their family, or to others that are important to them (e.g., their doctor or pastor). Another name for this barrier is "perceived social acceptability." If someone thinks that their neighbors, family, or others important to them would criticize them for adopting a particular practice, they may not do it, regardless of their personal opinion. For that reason, we need to educate all of the people who are consulted when a person makes a decision.


  • If a child's grandmother influences the child's mother a lot, and believes that ORS is a bad idea, the mother may not use ORS. If we do not convince the grandmother of the importance of using ORS, then we may not be able to convince the mother to try it.

    What could we do (in terms of support activities) to overcome these social norms? We could have a well-respected older woman from the community talk on the importance of using ORS. Another way would be to help the person justify what he/she is doing (i.e., the new behavior) when talking to others, but explaining it in a way that they can respect (e.g., using cultural proverbs).

  • If a farmer thinks that other people will laugh at him for using manure, he may not use it.

  • The old fisherman said that he could not quit smoking because all of his friends smoked. And by having no smoking rules in place, he was able to quit more easily.

What sort of support activities could be used that would help change social acceptability (e.g., support groups to raise consciousness of the negative aspects of smoking)?

This determinant can also be turned around into a positive attribute of the action. If people believe they can please those important to them (e.g., their parents) by doing a particular behavior (e.g., immunizing their child), you can ask them who it pleases and why, and use their response when promoting the behavior with others. For example, if you found that parents immunized their children because the chief in their village said it was important to do so (and they wanted to please the chief), you could remind people of that fact when promoting the behavior.

Determinants Introduction
Perceived Susceptibility
Perceived Severity
Perceived Action Efficacy
Perceived Social Acceptability
Perceived Self-Efficacy
Cues for Action
Perception of Divine Will
Negative and Positive Attributes
Determinant Exercises


Next (Perceived Self-Efficacy)

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© November 2004

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