Social Norms Approach

The social norms approach, or social norms marketing, is an environmental strategy gaining ground in health campaigns. While conducting research in the mid-1980s, two researchers, H.W. Perkins and A.D. Berkowitz, reported that students at a small U.S. college held exaggerated beliefs about the normal frequency and consumption habits of other students with regard to alcohol. These inflated perceptions have been found in many educational institutions, with varying populations and locations. Despite the fact that college drinking is at elevated levels, the perceived amount almost always exceeds actual behavior The social norms approach has shown signs of countering misperceptions, however research on resulting changes in behavior resulting from changed perceptions varies between mixed to conclusively nonexistent.

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