How Does It Work?

Remember the ads, “This is drugs.  This is your brain on drugs."

Did you think those were pretty effective?  Well, think again.  Research shows that alcohol and drug prevention campaigns that try to scare you by the negative consequence of behavior have not been effective in changing behavior. 

It’s time for something new:

Definition of social norming: “Social norms are simply the behaviors or attitudes of the majority of people in any community or group.”  (Linkenbach, MOST of Us Toolkit, 2006)

New research has shown that when a community of people knows the behavior of the majority of its members, members will change their behavior to match that majority.  A social norming campaign simply collects information on actual behaviors of a population and then disseminates that information back to the population in an interesting way.  What has been discovered is that “by highlighting and amplifying the positive attitudes and behavior of the majority, more such attitudes and behaviors result.” (Linkenbach, MOST of Us Toolkit, 2006)   Thus, changing perceptions toward the positive also changes behaviors toward the positive.