July 12-14, 2009

2009 National Conference on the Social Norms Approach

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Successful Application of the Social Norms Approach in a Small College Setting with Multiple Strategies

Dr. Shannon O'Neill, Director, Bowman Center for Women
Siena College

H. Wesley Perkins, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Hobart & William Smith Colleges


This presentation covers the creation, implementation and assessment of a social norms campaign to address high risk drinking at Siena College, a liberal arts college in upstate New York with an enrollment of 2900. Data collection on student misperception of the norm began in 2005. A social norms consultant helped us identify data that was appropriate to norm and best practices for implementing a campus-wide campaign. The Student Health Survey asked students about exposure to social norms messages and assessed perception for the norm and behavior regarding alcohol use on campus. An analysis of the data for 2006, 2007 and 2008 indicate a reduction in misperceptions of the norms, as well as reduced frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption.