Social Norms

Denver Resource for Awareness and Prevention (d-RAP)

  • The Denver Resource for Awareness and Prevention (Denver RAP),is a community-based source of information and tools to help identify and prevent teen alcohol and drug abuse, and to promote fun, healthy, positive lifestyle choices.

  • Denver RAP was developed by the Denver Office of Drug Strategy (DODS) in 2011 to help meet the overwhelming need for substance abuse prevention information, education and other resources in Denver.

  • The site provides information and resources on youth drinking and other substance abuse topics to parents, youth, service providers, and the local community.

  • d-RAP 85 Social Norming Campaign

National Social Norms Institute (NSNI)

  • The National Social Norms Institute opened its doors in 2006 at the University of Michigan. The mission includes research, evaluation, and dissemination of information on the social norms approach to the field. The goals are to demonstrate and facilitate the extension of the methodology to other health issues and other populations. The NSNI advisory board consists of prominent researchers and academicians in the field.

  • Look here for information about best practices, guidance on how to start a campaign, and to access national data from college health centers.

National Social Norms Resource Center

National Center for Campus Public Safety

  • Social Norms in Alcohol Abuse Prevention

    • Alcohol Awareness Month is a public health program organized by Facing Addiction with NCADD designed to increase outreach and education regarding the dangers of alcoholism and issues related to alcohol. As Alcohol Awareness Month continues, one focus on college campuses is prevention. One prevention mechanism that has shown great efficacy is the social norms approach. Social norms are the informal rules that govern behavior in groups and societies and include things like shaking hands when meeting someone, covering a sneeze, or raising your hand to get attention in a group.

    • According to the National Social Norms Center, the social norms approach to behavior change "combines lessons learned from a variety of fields including social marketing, sociology, behavioral psychology and evaluation research." The social norms approach considers that college students tend to overestimate the amount of alcohol use and abuse by their peers, and this is a conception that begins at a young age. According to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation,(PDF), "Only 2% of 6th-12th graders think that seniors don't drink. In reality, 25% of 12th graders report not drinking alcohol, a healthier proportion than their younger classmates perceive."

    • The social norms approach:

      • focuses on positive messages about healthy behaviors and attitudes that are common to most people in a group.

      • does not use scare tactics or stigmatize an unhealthy behavior.

      • avoids moralistic messages from authorities about how the target group "should" behave. Instead, it simply presents the healthy norms already existing in the group.

      • builds on the assets already in the community, through participation by community members, and by highlighting those who make healthy choices.

    • The last bullet above is important from an implementation perspective. The Social Norms Approaches Using Descriptive Drinking Norms Education: A Review of the Research on Personalized Normative Feedback recommends targeting students who are at higher risk for heavier alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems. Utilizing peers in their networks, like student athletes, those with similar academic interests, or those who participate in Greek life or other social networks, to share the social norms message is an effective mechanism for prevention. For information on how to start a social norms campaign, visit the For Practitioners section of the National Social Norms Center website.





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