Alcohol Education Guide
to Reducing Harmful Drinking

Targeting Misperceptions of Descriptive Drinking Norms: Efficacy of a Computer-Delivered Personalized Normative Feedback Intervention



Implementer: North Dakota State University

Partners: Funding from National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington

Program Overview: The aim of this social norms program was to reduce heavy drinking among first-year university students through computer-delivered personalized normative feedback.

Program Design: Students who reported drinking 4-5 or more drinks in the previous 30 days (4-women, 5-men) were eligible for the intervention. Students participating completed a baseline questionnaire, which was also used to provide feedback. Once the questionnaire was completed, the students were shown feedback on the computer screen, and their results were also printed. Feedback was provided on the students’ perceptions of their colleagues drinking patterns in comparison to actual norms and their percentile ranking of their reported alcohol consumption in comparison to other college students' consumption.

Evaluation: 252 students participated in the evaluation and intervention. A baseline measure was used during the intervention and the same questionnaire was administered again at 3 and 6 months after the normative feedback. The questionnaire measured peer drinking norms, drinking behaviors, and social reasons for drinking. 

Key findings: The evaluation found that the intervention was effective in correcting misperceptions of peer drinking norms at 3 and 6 months after the intervention. The intervention also was effective in reducing alcohol consumption (at 3 months).


  1.  Neighbors, C., Lewis, M. A., & Larimer, M. E. (2004).Targeting misperceptions of descriptive drinking norms: Efficacy of a computer-delivered personalized normative feedback interventionJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 72(3), 434-447.

Target Audience: University/young adults (18-21 years)
Issues: Underage Drinking
Setting: Online/ Internet
Approach: Social Norms
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