Social Norms Alcohol Programs Promoted

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board actively promotes and funds social norms programs to reduce alcohol abuse at colleges and universities throughout the state.

The social norms technique has repeatedly proven effective in reducing the use and abuse of alcohol among college students. It’s based on the fact that the vast majority of young people greatly exaggerate in their minds the quantity and frequency of drinking among their peers. Therefore, they tend to drink -- or drink more -- than they would otherwise, in an effort to “fit in.”

When credible surveys demonstrate the actual, much lower drinking rates, and the results are widely publicized to this group, the imagined social pressure drops and so does youthful drinking. Study after study demonstrates that the technique works.

What’s more, social norms programs cost very little to implement.

The Liquor Control Board has awarded grants to support social norms programs at Edinboro University, Mansfield University, Millersville University, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Rosemont College and Wilkes College

Social norms programs are often called social norms marketing programs because accurate information about the actual quantity and frequency on campus is “marketed” to the student body. They are also sometimes called social norms clarification programs because they clarify the actual normative behavior of peers. But regardless of what they’re called, they’re just as effective in reducing alcohol abuse.


  • Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. PA Liquor Control Board Awards Mini Grants to Colleges, Universities and Municipalities to Reduce High Risk Drinking by College Students. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board web site.