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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Social Norms, Social Change I by University of Pennsylvania

1,699 ratings
444 reviews

About the Course

This is a course on social norms, the rules that glue societies together. It teaches how to diagnose social norms, and how to distinguish them from other social constructs, like customs or conventions. These distinctions are crucial for effective policy interventions aimed to create new, beneficial norms or eliminate harmful ones. The course teaches how to measure social norms and the expectations that support them, and how to decide whether they cause specific behaviors. The course is a joint Penn-UNICEF project, and it includes many examples of norms that sustain behaviors like child marriage, gender violence and sanitation practices. This is Part 1 of the Social Norms, Social Change series. In these lectures, I introduce all the basic concepts and definitions, such as social expectations and conditional preferences, that help us distinguish between different types of social practices like customs, descriptive norms and social norms. Expectations and preferences can be measured, and these lectures explain how to measure them. Measurement is crucial to understanding the nature of the practice you are facing, as well as whether an intervention was or was not successful, and why. In Part 2, we will put into practice all we have learned in Part 1. New! Please use this link for a 30% discount on the recommended book that accompanies this course!

Top reviews

Mar 5, 2019

This course will open your eyes to different behavioural patterns that human engage in, teach how about the suppossed mudane but important things in our society and also how to carry out a research.

Jun 25, 2019

the course worth the time spent as there a lot of take away that are basically practical in our communities. I think in a whole I have learnt a lot and hope to undertake similar courses in due time

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76 - 100 of 432 Reviews for Social Norms, Social Change I

By M. P M L

Apr 28, 2017

Positive: There are a lot of examples and interviews with people in the field that help to understand better. I think the concepts exposed are useful and relevant.

Negative: I think it the course could be done in a much more compact way (the introduction and conclusion of each video, which is just music, take together around half a minute). I think all the concepts could be introduced in half of the time. There is a lot of reiteration and some texts are so similar with one another that more than once I thought I was doing again the same section.

By Benjamin C R

May 21, 2018

First two weeks were a waste of time and generally unclear. Could have started straight away with week 3 and would have been clearer. Very academic style.

By Andri A

Aug 1, 2017

Important topic, important informationBUT, given in a painfully slow pace. All 4 weeks can be summarized in 10 slides and 20 minutes video.

By Lain I

May 16, 2021

good explanation of the ideas, but it frames them from a colonialist perspective where the goal of social theory is to 'domesticate' people of other countries. a focus on changing harmful norms in more industrialized countries - such as the norm of teaching one's children religion, or the norm of harshly punishing people whos actions are believed (whether truthfully or not) to have caused harm, would be better.

By Joy S

Jan 30, 2017

This is for people doing social work in third world countries. Trust me, videos discussing open defecation and child marriage get old fast. Also, the stuff about social norms is very confusing and hard to understand.

By peter t

Aug 1, 2017

I found it very difficult to engage with this course which is surprising due to its exciting potential

By vishal a

Jun 7, 2020

The course is just about terms and jargon not so much about ideas.

By Seti S

Jan 20, 2020

Thank you so much for an eye opening course around a field I had very little scientific knowledge about. Growing up and living in developing countries in East Africa, I am very familiar with problems of FGC (female genital cutting), open defecation, open urination, bribing etc; problems that seemed never ending in spite of diverse attempts by relevant government authorities at ending them.

Fortunately, I have realized now through the course that personal and collective behavior is a complex thing that to eradicate undesirable behavior like FGC one needs a complex approach that targets most importantly both personal & collective behavioral factors.

Besides, when it comes to engaging such problems in future discussions, the scientific basis I have picked up through the course via exposure to relevant scientific language, methods & research work would guide my views on such social problems.

I plan to read the whole course book - Norms in The Wild – Cristina Bichhieri - to reinforce the skills I have so far learned.

Thanks Again


By Emmanuella B

Nov 15, 2020

Very insightful course. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the subject and it has given me insight into what I want to pursue as a career. I also liked the use of hypothetical examples to illustrate ideas, and then the use of real life situations provided by UNICEF.

My only critique is that I feel as though week four could have been broken down further into another week, making the house a five week course. My reasoning for this is there was a lot of material covered and it took my two days to gather notes and solidify my understanding. Other weeks took me only a day to complete.

Other than that, Well done on the production of such an interesting course. I look forward to studying more courses from the University of Pennsylvania and UNICEF in future

By Becca L

May 14, 2020

Good course! I would recommend this course to anyone with even a passing interest in social behavior! The material is very accessible & engaging. Both the reading material and lectures are brief, straightforward, and high-quality. Some of the quiz questions were surprisingly challenging (not the typical regurgitated Q&A from lecture videos). To get the most out of this course, I suggest participating in every discussion prompt you can. Taking the time to apply the concepts and reviewing others' applications will only reinforce and challenge what you're learning. I am currently working my way through the second course in this series!

By kishor k

Sep 12, 2020

topic was very interesting , the study material is very useful and to understand the basic concepts of the Social Norms . Normative and empirical expectation help to understand the social setup and behaviors of the society , their are need to change the social form with changeling circumstances. there are old unscientific custom in our society which are required to change and allow the younger generation to adopt the moral and scientific methods for their development . free and fair life is important for the growth of individual life , we first and prim objective to develop the civilized society for peace and justice .

By Petra D K

Aug 31, 2020

The course was very interesting and at a high level. It required more time then advertised though, actually double the amount of time because one cannot pass the tests when only listening to the videos or reading through the texts. This course requires studying of the concepts in order to obtain a clear understanding and be able to implement the concepts in the examples given in the tests. This enabled me to learn a lot and have a good insight in social norms and social change. I will definitely be able to use this in my current and future work related activities. Thanks a lot.

By Erin P

Jul 5, 2020

This course is a must for public health practitioners (and people from many other fields) working on behaviour change and by the end I was questioning my previous approaches to behavioural analysis. The course was really well structured, building each week while providing a lot of food for thought after each week's sessions. Professor Bicchieri was truly and excellent guide to this field and the insights of the other experts very illustrative. Will definitely be doing part two.

By Winston M N

Sep 24, 2020

A lot of the knowledge i have picked up is new to me, and obviously very absorbing. I was coming into the course from a legal background so i have better grasp of legal and regulatory frameworks. But i know i should aim to gain knowledge and skills in subjects around; i applaud the cause and efforts by professor Christina Bichierry and all the associates in imparting knowledge and skills on 'social norms social change'. Thank you.

By Victoria C

Jun 19, 2020

An excellent course that was paced well, and very interesting. It caused me to think about of day-today social situations I come across and to analyze them to determine what is happening and why. The guest speakers made it varied and "real" - it was interesting to learn about approaches to activities such as child marriage, cutting and open defecation in other countries. I learned a lot and enjoyed the course.

By Narmada K

Mar 18, 2021

I completed the course while I was at work, thanks to its extremely flexible structure. And the lectures given by Mrs. Bicchieri are easy to understand. Given how complicated the syllabus, I'd say she's a wonderful teacher.

I'm happy to recommend both the 'Social Norms, Social Change Part I' & 'Social Norms, Social Change Part II' courses, as it's worth it.

By Adnan H

May 4, 2020

Its a wonderful experience of learning new terms regarding social norms and social change. I love to continue its second part. The instructor is Crystal clear in her communication and usage of language. and also has given me flexible time to meet deadlines. Thank you University of Pennsylvania/UNICEF , Coursera and above all Cristina Biccihieri-

By Khwaja N S

Jun 15, 2020

This course was very useful, helpful and effective. I learned lots of things about social laws and regulations. How to behave with people, which actions are prohibited and not good to do according to the social rules and what are the solving and alternative ways. Eventually, how to advise people not to do which issues are against social rules.

By Slava D

May 20, 2020

Good course - well explained, many examples, interactive. Understanding social norms is fundamental to understanding societies. The only little drawback is that the readings are obviously taken from a book as is, which is why there are sometimes overlaps with the content from the videos (and it if feels like some concepts are over-explained).

By Karimzada G V

May 16, 2020

First part is completed and I already have learned a lot. My view about social behaviors and related problems have changed as well. The topic is very difficult, but ,thanks to the instructor, it is explained in very easy way with examples and unicef member's experience sharing. Thanks a lot! I keep going to second part :)

By Agnetha C S

Apr 17, 2019


English is not my first language and I have never been in contact with a similar topic before. However, I did not have to study the vocabulary too much as every little detail was explained, and sometimes even twice or oftener. Easy to understand without spending a huge amount on extra studying.

By Sankar V

Sep 7, 2016

This course takes you into the root cause of a problem and the very structure of the course is effective in easily being remembered in the minds of the enrollers. Thanks to the Pen University and the UNICEF for enlightening us and improving our perspectives through inter and independent causal learning.

By Nowmi N

Jan 10, 2020

It is a wonderful platform to learn a lot about how the social occurrences that we see is our surrounding society which are greatly hampering social growth are forming and how we can approach to know the root causes and properly plan to eradicate them . The course is very nicely designed and executed.

By Kevin A

Jun 8, 2019

The course covered the basic components and provided examples to understand the social norms and change, the real life illustrations did make the concepts easier for me to grasp. The discussions at the end of every week also make the course a great platform for learning from other participants.

By Manuel G

Jan 2, 2017

It is a Great course for who ever is working with Social organizations and with projects dealing with social Norms, even for another people is always good to understand some patterns of behavior. Am liking a lot what am learning, it is good form my work as Project Manager of an Mozambican NGO.