Perkins’ Social Norms Research on NPR – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Perkins’ Social Norms Research on NPR

In a November story on, Professor of Sociology Wes Perkins discussed how his research into perceptions and behaviors around alcohol among college students intersects with successful approaches to preventing sexual assault. A condensed version of the story aired on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

“How schools can reduce sexual violence” explores how the positive social norms approach to alcohol education can be adapted to educate teens about healthy sexual relationships.

Perkins is the editor of The Social Norms Approach to Preventing School and College Age Substance Abuse: A Handbook for Educators, Counselors, and Clinicians and “one of the originators of social norms education for alcohol,” as the story notes. He reflected on the potential for the social norms approach, adapted for sexual assault prevention education, to both encourage “men to act more as allies” and “discourage the men who might think about carelessly stepping over the line.”

Earlier this semester, Perkins appeared on NPR’s “On Point” to discuss attitudes and behavior around alcohol consumption among college-aged students.

In addition to his teaching duties at HWS, Perkins is the co-director of the Colleges’ Alcohol Education Project, which has twice received a national award from the U.S. Department of Education as a Model Prevention Program in Higher Education. His other research interests and publications include studies of family roles and well-being among young adults and comparative studies of social values and religion in Great Britain and the United States. He is also conducting an extensive research project on forgiveness and health in the life course of young and middle-aged adults and a project on social norms and bullying in adolescence.

Joining the HWS faculty in 1978, Perkins received a B.A. in sociology from Purdue University, a M.Div. degree from Yale University Divinity School and a M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University. He has received the HWS faculty prize for outstanding scholarship and the faculty prize for outstanding service to the Colleges’ community.