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The research that has been published in peer-reviewed journals and other publications about various aspects of the social norms approach is extensive and continues to grow. The relevant research literature falls into three principal areas:

Over 50 peer-reviewed studies documenting misperceptions of peer behavioral norms.

Many of these studies report college students' overestimations of peer alcohol use. These are studies based on both large and small size individual campuses, as well as on multi-campus studies. Misperceptions are prevalent among all members of the campus community-students, faculty and staff, and administrators. Misperceptions have also been reported for tobacco use, as well as for marijuana and other illicit drugs. The same pattern prevails among high school students, and has also been reported in statewide populations of young adults.

Over 20 peer-reviewed studies have documented that misperceptions (i.e., overestimations of peer use) correlate strongly with personal drinking behavior.

These are studies based on both large and small size college campus populations, as well as on multi-campus studies. In addition, some of these studies are based on middle and high school populations, and one study reports the predictive effect of the misperception of peers' driving (DWI) and/or riding while intoxicated (RWID).

Over 20 published studies documenting the positive effect of using the social norms approach to correct misperceptions.

Many of these studies report on successful campus-wide projects using the social norms approach to reduce high-risk drinking among college students. Several studies report on successful projects targeted at specific segments of campus populations, focused on both alcohol and tobacco. One study reports on reductions in alcohol and cigarette use in two high schools. There are also several studies that report the use of the social norms approach to improve tax compliance.

In 2003, the first single-volume compilation of case studies and research articles was published by Jossey-Bass. Edited by H. Wesley Perkins, Ph.D., The Social Norms Approach to Preventing School and College Age Substance Abuse: A Handbook for Educators, Counselors, and Clinicians is an essential compendium for those who want to know more about the social norms approach to health promotion.

For complete citations of the peer-reviewed research articles, case studies, and other literature related to social norms that are summarized above, see the Research section of this web site.