Research & Resources

Leveraging Dynamic Norms to Reduce Alcohol Use Among College Students

Researchers in this study tested the utility of dynamic norms messages within norm-correcting interventions. Contrary to static norms that reflect the current state of normative behavior, dynamic norms reflect behavioral norms that are shifting over time. Undergraduate student drinkers were randomly assigned to receive (a) dynamic norms messages highlighting a steady decrease over the past six years in heavy drinking among college students; (b) static norms messaging stating only the current norms; or (c) a control condition without normative information. Participants in the dynamic norms condition reported lower intentions for weekly drinks and heavy episodic drinking than those in the static norms and control conditions. Dynamic norms messaging had a favorable indirect effect on heavy episodic drinking intentions mediated through lower perceived future drinking norms. The researchers theorized that dynamic norms messaging might be a viable strategy for reducing alcohol use intentions, which can be integrated into or used alongside existing norm-correcting strategies.

This paper, “Leveraging dynamic norms to reduce alcohol use among college students: A proof-of-concept experimental study,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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