Conformity to the neighborhood modifies the association between recreational walking and social norms among middle-aged Japanese people

Chika Tanaka, Takashi Naruse, Atsuko Taguchi, Satoko Nagata, Azusa Arimoto, Yuki Ohashi, Sachiyo Murashima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aim: Recreational walking benefits the health of the middle-aged population. Social norms might generate an intention–behavior gap, the state of people forming adequate intentions but failing to translate these intentions into action. People living in a community where the neighbors conform to the average behaviors of those who live in the neighborhood might restrict behaviors that stray from the neighborhood's social norms. This cross-sectional study was conducted in order to examine whether the degree of conformity to the neighbors modified the association between social norms and recreational walking among middle-aged adults in Japan. Methods: Using a questionnaire, data were collected from 730 participants in Japan. Among those who intended to recreationally walk, a multiple logistic regression was carried out separately for the participants with a high or low degree of conformity to the neighborhood social norms. Results: Of the total number of respondents, 511 (70%) reported recreational walking intentions. The descriptive norm was significantly associated with recreational walking only among the participants with a high degree of conformity. In contrast, there was no such association among the participants with a low degree of conformity. Conclusion: The results confirmed that people who live in a community where people tend to conform translated walking intentions into action when they saw their neighbors walk recreationally. Public health nurses should evaluate the degree of conformity in neighborhoods and neighbors’ descriptive norms when promoting walking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-465
Number of pages15
JournalJapan Journal of Nursing Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 1



  • intention–behavior gap
  • physical activity
  • social conformity
  • social environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory

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