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Social Norms

About Social Norms

Social norms are people's beliefs about what is normal in a given situation. Research on college campuses indicates that students misperceive what is "normal" regarding alcohol use and attitudes about alcohol use, greatly exaggerating others alcohol use. Students overestimate the quantity and frequency of drinking among their peers, underestimate health-protective behaviors and believe their peers' attitudes are more permissive than they really are. Students, parents, community members and university staff, become carriers of the misperception that students drink a lot, a lot of the time.

The reality is most students hold moderate attitudes toward drinking and engage in low to moderate drinking practices, but some may try to live up to the false idea that 'everyone is doing it.' Social norms campaigns aim to decrease alcohol use and alcohol related negative consequences by communicating the truth about alcohol use on campus.

Social Norms Campaigns at UW Eau Claire

CASE collects information from students in surveys annually, to measure true drinking norms on the UW Eau Claire campus. Each year, CASE uses this information to develop a poster campaign to share the information that most UW Eau Claire students drink moderately, if at all, and to share other healthy behaviors that students report engaging in. CASE also incorporates social norms information into all of its educational programs, including presentations, which add an interactive component through the use of clickers.