Perceptions of drinking and related findings from the nationwide campuses study

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15 Scopus citations


Proponents of social norms approaches maintain that correcting misperceptions of alcohol use among college students may reduce drinking and its consequences. The author used aggregate campus-level data from the Nationwide Campuses Study to test this hypothesis. He defined the misperceptions ratio as the ratio of the frequency of the “average student's” perceived alcohol use to the frequency of self-use at each campus. Each of the 57 colleges reported misperceptions ratios greater than unity. At campuses where students had more accurate perceptions of alcohol use, students were more likely to desire alcohol availability at campus events and to drink on more days throughout the year than at campuses where students had greater misperceptions of alcohol use. The author found no data to support the preferential use of social norms programming on campuses with high levels of self-reported alcohol use or binge drinking. These findings raise questions about potentially unexpected and unintended effects of social norms approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-245
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College Health Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2003


  • Alcohol
  • Core alcohol and drug survey
  • Drinking behavior
  • Nationwide campuses study
  • Social norms


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