Social Norming FAQ's


Sacred Heart University developed a Social Norms Marketing campaign as this is a research, evidenced based strategy that is considered to be one of the most effective in high risk dangerous drinking among college students.

Using course listings provided by the registrar, courses were selected at random, and students in those courses were asked to participate. Students surveyed included 502 freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the spring of 2007.

Statistically speaking, when every student has an equal chance of being selected for a study, and if enough students are sampled (usually at least 300), the sample that is used will reflect the larger population, with only a small margin of difference between the two.

First of all, the survey was completely anonymous, and the students were encouraged to be honest and were assured that there would be no consequences if they did indicate illegal or irresponsible behavior. Most of their responses were similar to nationally-reported averages of similar behaviors at other campuses. While it’s true that some of the students may have lied to make themselves look like they drink less, other students may have lied to make themselves look like they drink more. Even taking into consideration that some students may have minimized their irresponsible behavior, most still drink responsibly, if at all. Also, we know that perceptions can be skewed. The few students who engage in excessive drinking or who are irresponsible tend to get a lot more attention about their drinking than the students who didn’t drink or who only had a couple of drinks.

We would love to have a campus in which 100% of our students didn’t drink, or in which 100% of our students acted responsibly if they did choose to drink (legally, of course). The reality is that just like most campuses, some of our students do drink alcohol, and minorities of our students do engage in high-risk drinking behaviors, and some face addictions. We want to help students realize that although these high-risk behaviors get a lot of attention, they are the exception, rather than the rule. We ARE proud that the majority of students on our campus are responsible when it comes to drinking-related behaviors.