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
peer-reviewed studies documenting misperceptions of peer behavioral
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.
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
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.