Introduction: The current study examines the norms-behavior link by investigating a novel cognition for protective behavioral strategies (PBS)—descriptive and injunctive norms for close friends’ reasons to use PBS (e.g., limit drinking, reduce consequences)—in relation to one's own perception of usefulness and personal use of PBS. Further, we tested whether the association between perceived norms for reasons to use PBS and personal PBS use was mediated by perceived usefulness of PBS. Methods: College student drinkers ages 18–24 [N = 301; 53% female, 69% White, mean age = 20.16 years (SD = 1.54)] were recruited for a larger study. Eligible students reported alcohol use 2+ days a week and 1+ occasions of heavy episodic drinking in the last two weeks. Linear regression tested whether descriptive and injunctive norms for reasons to use PBS were associated with perceived usefulness and personal use of PBS; path analysis was used to test mediation. All analyses were conducted by PBS subscale (limiting/stopping, serious harm reduction, manner of drinking). Results: Descriptive norms for reasons to use PBS (i.e., perceptions that close friends use PBS to reduce drinking/consequences) were positively associated with perceived usefulness and personal PBS use for limiting/stopping and to some extent manner of drinking. For each subscale, the association between descriptive norms for reasons to use PBS and personal PBS use was mediated by perceived usefulness of PBS. Results were not significant for injunctive norms. Conclusions: Findings suggest descriptive norms, rather than injunctive norms, for close friends’ reasons to use PBS, may be relevant for inclusion in brief interventions.
- Descriptive norms
- Injunctive norms
- Protective behavioral strategies
- Young adults