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An analysis of normative messages in signs at recreation settings


R.B. Cialdini
R.J. Bator
K. Rhoads
B.J. Sagarin



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Pacific Southwest Research Station


Journal of Interpretation Research 3(1): 39-47


The reliance on signs as a mode of agency communication with visitors requires an examination of message presentation and content in order to evaluate message impact and effectiveness. This paper reports on a system¬atic evaluation of signs and messages at 42 recreation areas in California and Arizona. A number of factors, including type of site, managing agency, density of message locales, sign attributes, and message content, were ex¬amined. Messages addressing depreciative activities, and how those mes¬sages were framed, were of particular interest. The vast majority of messages presented behavioral commands (injunctive norms) and were negatively worded (proscriptive). This striking imbalance points to concerns in visitor information and education, allowing room for adjustments based on social-psychological principles of communication.


Winter, P.L.; Cialdini, R.B.; Bator, R.J.; Rhoads, K.; Sagarin, B.J. 1998. An analysis of normative messages in signs at recreation settings. Journal of Interpretation Research 3(1): 39-47.

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