Chico State - Social Norms Campaign

Some foundational ideas underlying the social norms approach to behavior change are:

  • Our perceptions of our peers’ attitudes and behaviors have a great influence on our own attitudes and behaviors.
  • Unfortunately, our perceptions are often inaccurate: We tend to over-estimate the number of our peers who value and make unhealthy choices and under-estimate the number who value and make healthy choices.
  • If, in a given group or population of people, most people are making healthy choices but most people believe that their peers are making unhealthy choices, then a social norms marketing campaign may reduce the misperception and further encourage healthy choices.
  • Social norms marketing campaigns are based on current, accurate information about the  intended audience and adhere, in process and content, to good social marketing principles.

The social norms approach focuses on positive messages about healthy behaviors and attitudes that are common to most people in a group:

  • It does not use scare tactics or stigmatize an unhealthy behavior.
  • It avoids moralistic messages from authorities about how the target group “should” behave. Instead, it simply presents the healthy norms already existing in the group.
  • It builds on the assets already in the community, through participation by community members, and by highlighting those who make healthy choices.

"Social Norms Approach." National Social Norms Center. Michigan State University

For more information on the history of Social and Cultural Aspects of Drinking see here

For graphics from CADEC's Social Norm Campaign, with information provided from the 2016 AlcoholEdu data, download a PDF 
For a web version, download this PDF