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Home > Responsible drinking ‘social norms’ messages not credible, say students.

[Drug and Alcohol Findings] (2017) Responsible drinking ‘social norms’ messages not credible, say students. London: Drug and Alcohol Findings. Drug and Alcohol Findings Bulletin (5 May 2017) 4 p.

PDF (Robinson: Responsible drinking ‘social norms’ messages)


A study set in a UK university found telling students that their peers drink less than they might think did not reinforce their intentions to drink responsibly. Though the message that most students have ‘six drinks or less’ on each occasion was clear, students did not believe, trust or relate to it

Key points from summary and commentary
• The ‘social norms’ approach aims to correct students’ misperceptions about how much their peers drink, in a bid to curb their own excessive drinking.
• Tested among 1020 University of Liverpool students, there proved to be little to no impact from disseminating norms about responsible drinking.
• Though there was evidence of participants overestimating how much the majority of their peers drink, and a link between believing others followed the norm and students’ usual drinking behaviour, norms did not appear to be driving drinking in the latter.

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