The Social Norms Marketing Approach

One of the originators of the social norms approach to substance abuse prevention and health promotion, Dr. H. Wesley Perkins, has edited The Social Norms Approach to Preventing School and College Substance Abuse: A Handbook for Educators, Counselors, and Clinicians.

The scope of the book can be seen in the list of contents:

Part I: Introduction

The Emergence and Evolution of the Social Norms Approach to Substance Abuse Prevention - H. Wesley Perkins

Part II: Case Studies of College Experiments to Reduce Alcohol Abuse

The Northern Illinois University Experiment: A Case Study of the Social Norms Approach - Michael Haines and Gregory P. Barker

The Hobart and William Smith Colleges Experiment: A Synergistic Social Norms Approach Using Print, Electronic Media and Curriculum Infusion to Reduce Collegiate Problem Drinking - H. Wesley Perkins and David W. Craig

The University of Arizona '5 Campus Health Social Norms Media Campaign - Koreen
Johannessen and Peggy Glider

Applying the Social Norms Model to Universal and Indicated Alcohol Interventions at Western Washington University - Patricia M. Fabiano

The Rowan University Social Norms Project - Linda R. Jeffrey, Pam Negro, DeMond Miller, and John D. Frisone

The Small Group Norms-Challenging Model: Social Norms Interventions with Targeted High Risk Groups - Jeanne Far and John Miller

PART III: Expanding Social Norms Interventions to Other College Student Applications

Perceptions, Norms and Tobacco Use in College Residence Hall Freshmen: Evaluation of a Social Norms Marketing Intervention - Linda Hancock and Neil Henry

A Social Norms Approach to Building Campus Support/or Policy Change - William DeJong

PART IV: Young Adults and Social Norms Work beyond the Campus

Misperceptions of Peer Alcohol Norms in a Statewide Survey of Young Adults - Jeff Linkenbach and H. Wesley Perkins

The Montana Model: Development and Overview of a Seven-Step Process for Implementing Macro-Level Social Norms Campaigns - Jeff Linkenbach

PART V: The Social Norms Approach in Middle and High School Populations

The Imaginary Lives of Peers: Patterns of Substance Use and Misperceptions of Norms among Secondary School Students - H. Wesley Perkins and David W. Craig

Most of Us Are Tobacco Free: An Eight-Month Social Norms Campaign Reducing Youth
Initiation of Smoking in Montana
- Jeff Linkenbach and H. Wesley Perkins

Using Social Norms To Reduce Alcohol And Tobacco Use in Two Midwestern High Schools - Michael Haines, Gregory P. Barker, and Richard Rice

PART VI: Further Applications and Challenges for the Social Norms Model in Promoting Health and Well-Being

Parents' Perceptions of Parenting Norms: Using the Social Norms Approach to Reinforce
Effective Parenting
- Jeff Linkenbach, H. Wesley Perkins, and William DeJong

Application of Social Norms Theory to Other Health and Social Justice Issues - Alan Berkowitz

The Promise and Challenge of Future Work on the Social Norms Model - H. Wesley Perkins

This authoritative handbook, which is the most comprehensive guide available, helps practitioners apply social norms marketing techniques in diverse populations (students, parents, young non-college adults, etc.) in different environments (middle school, high school, college, homes, or an entire state) with different behaviors (alcohol consumption, tobacco use, effective parenting, pro-social actions, etc.)

The Social Norms Approach is published by Jossey-Bass (ISBN 0-7879-6459-X)


Please note: This website receives no benefit whatsoever from the sale of this book


  • Baer, J. S., and Carney, M. M. Biases in the perceptions of the consequences of alcohol use among college students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1993, 54, 54-60.
  • Baer, J. S., Stacy, A., and Lattimer, M. Biases in the perception of drinking norms among college students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1991, 52, 580-586.
  • Berkowitz, Alan D. The Social Norms Approach: Theory, Research and Annotated Bibliography. Trumansburg, NY, 2003.
  • Berkowitz, Alan D., and Perkins, H. Wesley. Current Issues in Effective Alcohol Education Programming. In: Sherwood, J. S. (Ed.) Alcohol Policies and Practices on College and University Campuses. Washington, DC: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, 1987.
  • DeJong, W., and Linkenbach, J. Telling it like it is: Using social norms marketing campaigns to reduce student drinking. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 1999, 52(4), 13-16.
  • Haines, Michael P. A Social Norms Approach to Preventing Binge Drinking at Colleges and Universities. Newton, Massachusetts: Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention, 1996.
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  • Johannessen, K., et. al. A Practical Guide to Alcohol Abuse Prevention: A Campus Case Study in Implementing Social Norms and Environmental Management Approaches. Tucson, AZ: Campus Health Service, The University of Arizona, 1986.
    A detailed examination of the first four years of the University of Arizona's social norm campaign, which achieved a 29% reduction in heavy drinking.
  • Linkenbach, J.W. Application of social norms marketing to a variety of health issues. Wellness Management, 1999, 15(3).
  • Linkenbach, J. W. Building a Bridge: Applying the Social Norms Model to Sexual Health. The BACCHUS & GAMMA Sexual Responsibility Manual, 1999. (Available from the Bacchus & Gamma Peer Education Network,
  • Linkenbach, J.W. Imaginary Peers and the Reign of Error: Binge Drinking Prevention Through Social Norms. The Prevention Connection: A Publication of the Montana Prevention Resource Center and the Addictive and Mental Disorders Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, 1999, (3), 1-5.
  • Linkenbach, J.W. Social Norms Marketing Highlight: Drinking And Driving. In P. Kotler, N. Roberto, & N. Lee (Eds.), Social Marketing: Improving the Quality of Life. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage (2nd Edition, 2002, pp. 162-166).
  • Linkenbach, J.W. (2002). Social Norms. In P. Kotler, N. Roberto, & N. Lee (Eds.), Social Marketing: Improving the Quality of Life. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage (2nd edition, 2002)
  • Linkenbach, J. W. and H. W. Perkins, "Misperceptions of Peer Alcohol Norms in a Statewide Survey of Young Adults," (2003). In: Perkins, H. Wesley (ed) The Social Norms Approach To Preventing School And College Age Substance Abuse: A Handbook for Educators, Counselors, and Clinicians. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.
    This book chapter reports the results of a state-wide survey of 18 to 24 year old residents in Montana that examines actual and perceived norms for frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption and prevalence of drinking and driving. Results again reveal dramatic discrepancies between actual and perceived norms for both men and women.
    Manoff, R.K Social Marketing: New Imperative for Public Health. Praeger Publishers, 1985.
  • Perkins, H. Wesley. College Student Misperceptions of Alcohol and Other Drug Norms among Peers: Exploring Causes, Consequences, and Implications for Prevention Programs. In: The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention. Newton, MA: The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention, 1997. Pp. 177-206.
  • Perkins, H. Wesley. Scope of the problem: Misperceptions of alcohol and drugs. Prevention through correcting Misperceptions of alcohol and other drug norms: Notes on the state of the field. Catalyst, 1995, 1(3), 1-2.
  • Perkins, H. Wesley. Social norms and the prevention of alcohol misuse in college contexts. Journal of Studies on Alcohol/Supplement No. 14, 2002.
    An review of conceptual and empirical studies on the role of social norms in college student alcohol use and in prevention strategies to counter misuse. The normative influences of various constituencies serving as reference groups for students are examined as possible factors influencing students' drinking behavior.
  • Perkins, H. Wesley, and Berkowiz, Alan D. Perceiving the community norms of alcohol use among students: Some research implications for campus alcohol education programming. International Journal of Addictions, 1986, 21, 961-976.
  • Perkins, H. Wesley and Craig, David. A Multifaceted Social Norms Approach to Reduce High-Risk Drinking. Newton, MA: The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention, Education Development Center, Inc., 2002.
    Describes the Hobart and William Smith Colleges' Social Norms Project, which achieved a 30% reduction in high-risk drinking over 5 years. Contents include a complete description of program components, including data collection, print media campaigns, electronic media campaigns, curriculum development, and campus presentations.
  • Perkins, H. Wesley, and Wechsler, Henry. Variations in perceived college drinking norms and its impact on alcohol abuse: A nationwide study. Journal of Drug Issues, 1996, 26, 961-974.
  • Wood, M. D., Nnagoshi, C. T., and Dennis, D. A. Alcohol norms and expectations as predictors of alcohol use and problems in a college student sample. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 1992, 18, 461-476.