Positive Culture Framework 

A Foundation for Cultural Transformation

The Positive Culture Framework is an approach based on our latest research about improving health and safety in our communities and organizations. PCF seeks to cultivate health and safety. We intentionally use the word cultivate, as the PCF builds on shared values, beliefs, and attitudes that already exist in a culture to promote health and safety. PCF builds on the recognition that the solutions are in the community.


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Positive Community Norms & Social Norms Marketing
The Center refined and expanded its Positive Community Norms approach to improving health and safety by creating the PCF. Positive Community Norms was largely based on social norms marketing, which focuses on how people’s behavior is influenced by their perceptions of what is “normal” or “typical.” The problem is that we often severely misperceive the typical behaviors or attitudes of our peers. For example, if people believe that the majority of their peers smoke, then they are more likely to smoke. Using social norms marketing to inform people that the majority of their peers do not smoke can potentially lead them to avoid smoking. Thus, informing people that the majority of their peers are acting in a positive or healthy way can create an environment in which people actively strive to emulate what they believe is typical of their peers. While traditional social norms efforts focused on a single group or audience, Positive Community Norms focused on several audiences surrounding a specific issue. For example, in addressing underage drinking, campaigns might focus on youth, their parents, schools, and the general community. 
The PCF builds on lessons learned from our research on Positive Community Norms and includes more than just normative beliefs to take a comprehensive, cultural perspective. The PCF moves beyond only using social norms marketing campaigns to influence behavior. The PCF fosters a cultural approach by recognizing that many different layers in a community (e.g., individuals, families, schools, workplaces, etc.) or organization (e.g., executive leadership, managers, supervisors, etc.) impact its culture. It is not enough just to focus on one layer. Instead, we need to engage all layers of the social ecology of a community to address health and safety. When all layers share values, beliefs and attitudes, a healthier and safer culture emerges and is sustained over time.
Positive Culture Framework Skills
The PCF focuses on three critical skills needed in order to be effective at improving health and safe: leadership, communication, and integration. The PCF provides detailed steps and addresses the skills to successfully navigate these steps. Skills are needed in leadership, communication and the integration of multiple strategies. The steps are applied to many layers within a community or organization to improve health and safety. 
Improving health and safety is an act of leadership – we are leading people to make healthier and safer choices. Changing cultural factors can be challenging, as people often resist questioning their core assumptions. Developing leadership skills increases this effectiveness.
Virtually all efforts to improve health and safety involve communication. Often, communication efforts addressing health and safety have minimal results and sometimes have even made the problem(s) worse. It is very important to ground communication efforts in strong research and to recognize that even conversations are critical communication opportunities.
When we recognize the work of improving health and safety is about impacting many behaviors across the social ecology, we realize that there is no single strategy that will address these complex issues. Accepting that we need a portfolio of strategies means we must also accept the need to actively manage and align these strategies. This management and alignment of strategies is the work of integration. Integration is about making things whole. Developing skills in integration means we can foster better resource utilization, reduce competition and foster cooperation, align purpose, and increase the effectiveness of our efforts.
Positive Culture Framework Core Concepts


For an in-depth look at the Positive Culture Framework, we encourage you to consider hosting a PCF training or attending the next public PCF Training.