The goal of ‘social norming’ is to articulate the ‘social norms’ on a college campus. This is important because ‘social norms’ are the perceived standards of acceptable social attitudes and social behaviors that prevail among the members of a college community. Yet, such perceptions may in fact be gravely mistaken, and so create among members of a college community incorrect assumptions about approved and agreed upon attitudes and behaviors.
One dimension of social behavior of special concern on college campuses is alcohol consumption and associated behaviors. Recent surveys of college students reveal that most students greatly overestimate the amount of high-risk drinking that occurs on their own campus and on college campuses in general. Because of that erroneous assessment, students may conclude (counter-intuitively) that high-risk drinking is the social norm on a campus, meaning that binge and other drinking activities are tacitly accepted-- which in turn may lead them to increased alcohol consumption. In other words, the misperception may cause students to believe they are justified in consuming large amounts of alcohol, and cause other students to feel pressured to engage in high-risk drinking behaviors in order to fit in with the campus culture.
The Social Norms Campaign aims to correct such mistaken assumptions and to foster among students a more accurate understanding of alcohol consumption on campus. The Social Norms campaign collects from and distributes to students the more accurate data on student consumption in hopes of correcting any misperceptions and the associative behaviors such misperceptions may instigate.