Presentation on theme: "SOCIAL NORMS 101 AN INTRODUCTION TO THEORY AND RESEARCH."— Presentation transcript:
SOCIAL NORMS 101 AN INTRODUCTION TO THEORY AND RESEARCH
SOCIAL NORMS APPROACH TO AT-RISK BEHAVIOR PREVENTION An increasingly popular universal prevention technique based upon sociological/psychological theory and supported by an extensive empirical study An environmental approach based upon sharing accurate information with students Compatible with other prevention strategies
PURPOSE OF THIS PRESENTATION Introduce the theoretical and research underpinnings of social norms strategies and the reasons they work Help identify the best way to use the social norms approach as described in the Social Norms Tool Kit with your students Provide practical implementation advice for developing a local social norms campaign Provide information on evaluating the success of a schools social norms campaign
SOME DEFINITIONS Social Norms Approach: a proactive prevention program that communicates the truth about peer norms in terms of what the majority of students actually think and do, all on the basis of credible data drawn from the student population that is the target. (Perkins, 2003). Misperception: the gap between the perceived and the actual. Bullying: systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt and/or psychological distress on one or more students (National Education Association, 2008).
SOME DEFINITIONS, CONT. Bullying: systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt and/or psychological distress on one or more students (National Education Association, 2008). Binge Drinking or Heavy Episodic Drinking: The consumption of four or five drinks in a row in a short period of time.
AN ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS Contemporary, evidence-based prevention strategies emphasize the importance of environmental strategies for effecting positive behavior change
THE THEORY BEHIND SOCIAL NORMS STRATEGIES Our behavior is influenced by our perceptions of what others think and do … BUT These perceptions are often inaccurate If we can correct the misperceptions that exist, over the course of time behavior should reflect the more accurate (and healthier) norms
EVIDENCE FOR THE IMPACT OF NORMS ON BEHAVIOR Social Comparison Theory: We continuously compare ourselves to others in our social group. If discrepancies exist, we become motivated to reduce the discrepancies, thus, bringing our behavior into congruence with the norm, Festinger (1957).
SOCIAL COMPARISONS ARE OFTEN BIASED Pluralistic ignorance…Everybody else is different from me! I am the only one who is NOT doing it…(Gee, Id better do it.) But in reality there is typically much greater similarity between ones self and others
SOCIAL NORMS MAY BE ESPECIALLY INFLUENTIAL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE Peers become increasingly influential starting in late childhood (beginning at age 10 or so) Peer group norms are likely to dictate much pre-adolescent and adolescent behavior Adolescents want and need to be accepted by their peers, and will work toward this goal
THE REALITY OF MISPERCEPTIONS Over 50 published studies document the existence of misperceptions (National Social Norms Institute, University of Virginia) Earliest was Perkins and Berkowitz (1986) – College students believed peer norms for alcohol consumption were much higher than they actually were
A MORE SPECIFIC EXAMPLE Perkins, Haines & Rice (2005); 76,145 college students from 140 colleges and universities nationwide 71% misperceived the amount of alcohol consumed by peers, overestimating both the quantity consumed by peers and the frequency with which they drank
MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE SIMILARLY AFFECTED Perkins and Craig (2003) Web-based survey of 8,860 middle and high school students Actual alcohol use in middle school was 7%; Perceived use in middle school was 23% Actual use in high school was 29%; Perceived use in high school was 60%
MISPERCEPTIONS ABOUT BULLYING Perkins and Craig (2006) Survey of 578 middle school students 63% did NOT tease others; 83% believed that their peers DID 74% did NOT push or hit others; 83% believed that their peers DID The gaps noted in the figures above clearly indicate the existence of misperceptions in this population
WHY DO MISPERCEPTIONS EXIST? The vividness effect – behavior that stands out in some way is better remembered and more often discussed Media depictions and even educational material perpetuate the notion that everyone is drinking
MISPERCEPTIONS AND BEHAVIOR Empirical research confirms that misperceptions correlate with behavior In a nationwide sample of college students, student perception of the drinking norm was the strongest predictor of personal consumption (Perkins et al., 2005) Among 29,976 NJ college students surveyed from , those who misperceived the peer norm as 7+ drinks were twice as likely to drink heavily themselves (LaMastro & LaMastro, 2007)
MISPERCEPTIONS AND BEHAVIOR: MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS Higher peer perceptions of alcohol use were associated with subsequent escalations of personal drinking. (HS students) (DAmico et al., 2001) Estimates of peer alcohol use predicted ones own alcohol use one year later (Marks et al., 1992)
THE KEY QUESTION: Does reducing or correcting misperceptions change behavior? Given sufficient time and a strong social norms marketing campaign, research suggests that the answer is YES Research with college students revealed a 10% campus-wide decrease in high-risk drinking over the campaign period (Perkins & Craig, 2002) The percentage of college students with Blood Alcohol Content over.05% declined 8% during the campaign period (Foss et el., 2003)
AMONG MS AND HS STUDENT In the MOST of us campaign in Montana: 10% of year olds in the campaign counties initiated smoking, versus 17% in control (non- campaign) counties Reductions in high-risk drinking among MS students was associated with accurate perceptions of peer norms following a two-year campaign,(Botvin et al., 2001)
NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON ALCOHOLISM AND ALCOHOL ABUSE: Initial results from programs adopting an intensive social norms approach are promising. Several institutions that persistently communicated accurate norms have experienced reductions of up to 20% in high risk drinking over a relatively short period of time…together these findings provide strong support for the potential impact of the social norms approach. (NIAAA, pg. 13, 2002)
Botvin, G.J., Sussman, S. & Biglan, A. (2001). The Hutchison smoking prevention project: A lesson on inaccurate media coverage and the importance of prevention advocacy. Prevention Science, 2, DAmico, E.J. (2001). Progression into and out of binge drinking among high school students. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 15, Festinger, L. (1957). A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA. REFERENCES
Foss, R., et al. (2004). Social norms program reduces measured and self-reported drinking at UNC-CH. The Report on Social Norms: Working Paper #14. Little Falls, NH, Paper Clip Communications. LaMastro, V. & LaMastro, R. (2007). Looking back, looking forward: Social norms programming at New Jersey state colleges and universities, 1997 to Monograph, New Jersey Higher Education Consortium.
REFERENCES Marks, G., Graham, J.W., & Hansen, W.B. (1992). Social Projection and Social Conformity in Adolescent Alcohol Use: A Longitudinal Analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, NIAAA (2002). How to Reduce High Risk College Drinking: Use Proven Strategies, Fill Research Gaps. Final Report of the Panel on Prevention and Treatment, Task Force of the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Washington, DC. National Institutes of Health.
REFERENCES Perkins, H.W. & Berkowitz, A.D. (1986). Perceiving the community norms of alcohol use among students: Some research implications for campus alcohol education programming. International Journal of the Addictions, 21, Perkins, H.W. (Ed.) (2003). The Social Norms Approach to Preventing School and College Age Substance Abuse. San Francisco, CA. Jossey- Bass.
REFERENCES Perkins, H.W., Haines, M.P., & Rice, R. (2005) Misperceiving the college drinking norm and related problems: A nationwide study of exposure to prevention information, perceived norms, and student alcohol misuse. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Perkins, H.W., & Craig, D.W. (2003). The imaginary lives of peers: Patterns of substance use and misperceptions of norms among secondary school students. In The Social Norms Approach to Preventing School and College Age Substance Abuse. H.W. Perkins (Ed.), San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.