A Scottish daily newspaper published in Edinburgh and BBC Radio Scotland interviewed Professor of Anthropology and Sociology H. Wesley Perkins, who spoke earlier this week to a group at the Scottish Parliament.
A story in the Tuesday, Oct. 23 edition of The Scotsman, described his address to the conference, on the same day the government launched Alcohol Awareness Week, Oct. 21-27, aimed at encouraging drinkers to acknowledge how much they are consuming.
“Traditional prevention strategies are not working, whether we are trying to educate young people about the influence of alcohol upon them, or we are trying to scare them,” he told the think tank Scotland's Futures Forum.
“What I have been promoting is a social norms strategy. That's a strategy where we identify what the actual norms are – what do most people think and do with regard to alcohol use.
“I know the majority have a positive attitude and behaviour. They are healthy and responsible – but that's the best kept secret. What young people – and older people – in the community think is everyone is engaging in problem behaviour. They think the majority have very permissive attitudes.”
In an interview with BBC Radio Scotland reporter Tom Wood, Perkins also said, “We need to get the message out that most people are not drinking too much … they think everyone else is drinking too much.”
Perkins, a member of the HWS faculty since 1978, holds a bachelor’s degree from Purdue as well as two master’s and a doctorate from Yale. He popularized the Social Norms theory with work beginning more than two decades ago, and in collaboration with Professor of Chemistry David Craig, has received numerous awards for its applications to preventing alcohol abuse and other risk behaviors.