July 11-13, 2010

2010 National Conference on the Social Norms Approach

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Achieving and Demonstrating AOD Prevention Impact from a Social Norms Intervention with Survey Research in Diverse Secondary Schools

H. Wesley Perkins, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology and Sociology

David W. Craig, Ph.D., Dept. of Chemistry

Hobart & William Smith Colleges


This presentation demonstrates that reduction in AOD problems can be achieved in diverse secondary school settings, but intensive exposure to positive norm messages is an essential for positive effect. Demonstrating impact based on survey research can be strengthened in secondary school case studies by: 1) including multiple AOD measures of personal and perceived attitudes and behaviors and perceived norms, 2) including a range of program exposure measures, and 3) obtaining good response rates at each survey time period. Four secondary schools using a standardized anonymous online survey were selected as case studies located in diverse regions of the US and ranging from less than 100 to over 1,500 students in the population. Each school conducted the survey during the same term in two or more academic years and introduced a social norms intervention using at least a print media campaign in between the first and last survey administration. The survey sampling frame was the entire population of the school target grades in each instance and reliable response rates were obtained. An additional battery of questions assessing program exposure through a variety of venues was included in the school survey following the intervention. Results indicate AOD use reductions following the social norms intervention in all but one site where, compared to the other schools, a much lower overall exposure to the intervention program was measured.