COUNTRY: UNITED STATES
Implementer: Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Partners: Funding from the US Department of Education
Program Overview: This social norms program aimed to reduce harmful alcohol consumption among university athletes by correcting misperceptions of social norms.
Program Design: This program began with an initial survey of 414 athletes, which served to inform program messaging as well as pretest data. Data were used to develop numerous positive norms messages such as the following:
- "The majority (66%) of [this school's] student athletes drink alcohol once per week or less often or do not drink at all";
- "88% of student athletes at [this school] believe one should never drink to an intoxicating level that interferes with academics or other responsibilities";
- "The majority of athletes (71%) do not use alcohol to relieve academic pressures";
- "82% of [this school's] student-athletes never injure themselves or others as a result of alcohol consumption during the academic year"; and
- "89% of athletes at [this school] never miss or perform poorly in athletic events as a result of drinking during academic year".1
These messages were distributed via print media, electronically, through computers set up in high traffic areas, and peer educators.
Evaluation: Web based anonymous surveys were used to collect data at pretest (2001) and post tests in 2002 and 2003. The survey instrument included items to measure perceptions of norms, self-reported drinking behaviors, and program exposure.
Key findings1: The evaluation showed that students who received more than one year of the student-athlete social norms program reported statistically significant changes in misperceptions and their own drinking behaviors.
- Changes were observed in the number of students who perceived that teammates consumed alcohol >1 time/week; that friends consumed alcohol >1 time/week; and perceptions that consumption of ten or more drinks at a party is typical among their friends.
- Students exposed to the program for both years reported declines in consumption more than one time per week; estimations of a peak BAC greater than .08% at parties and bars; consumption of ten or more drinks at parties and bars; and measures of problem drinking.
Program Website: alcoholeducationproject.org/mvp
1. Perkins, H. W. & Craig, D. W. (2006). A successful social norms campaign to reduce alcohol misuse among college student-athletes. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 67(6), 880-889.
2. Perkins, H. W. & Craig, D. W. (2012). 'Student-athletes' misperceptions of male and female peer drinking norms: A multi-site investigation of the ‘reign of error’. Journal of College Student Development, 53(3), 367-382.
Target Audience: University/young adults (18-21 years)
Issues: Heavy Episodic or Binge Drinking, Underage Drinking
Setting: Media (including social media), University
Approach: Social Norms