Social Norms theories confirmed in study – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Social Norms theories confirmed in study

A nationwide study recently published in the “Journal of Studies on Alcohol” confirms theories introduced in 1982 by Hobart and William Smith Colleges professor of sociology H. Wesley Perkins, which have grown in popularity in recent years.

The study found that most college students overestimate peer drinking and that these misperceptions have the strongest impact on student alcohol misuse. It also found that less high-risk drinking and fewer negative consequences were found among students at the schools — such as HWS — where the social norms approach is used.

More than 76,000 students at 130 colleges and universities took part in the study, the largest national database of college students analyzed to date.

“These findings clearly indicate that, in order to reduce students’ high-risk drinking and its related harm, colleges and universities need to evaluate how effectively their prevention information reduces students’ overestimations of the campus drinking norm,” Perkins said.

“The social norms approach helps to protect students and makes campuses safer,” he added.

Perkins has edited a book on the social norms approach, been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education and has given numerous speeches.