Loyola Students Can Make Smart Choices
Loyola University Chicago's Social Norms Marketing Campaign on Alcohol
- What are 'social norms'?
- Where did the statistics come from?
- Highlights from the National College Health Assessment Survey at Loyola
- Who made the posters?
- Who funded the social norms campaign?
- Contact for more information
Social norms are the perceived standards of acceptable attitudes and behaviors prevalent among the members of a community. There is a large and growing body of research that supports the idea that norms, be they real or false, have a powerful influence on behavior. In other words, what we do is influenced by what we "think" other members of our social group think and do.
Generally, we misperceive, i.e. overestimate, others' negative or harmful behavior, e.g. heavy drinking, and underestimate others' positive behavior, e.g. abstaining or drinking in moderation, or using a designated driver. Widespread misperception of social norms can contribute to an increase in negative behaviors. For example, first year students may drink heavily because they believe that everybody on campus drinks heavily.
Consistently communicating accurate information about the norms and about the prevalence of healthy behaviors can change the perceptions a group has about itself, thereby positively influencing individual behavior. A social norms marketing approach like Loyola's uses media as one means to correct negative misperceptions by letting students know that most students are moderate drinkers who practice protective behaviors to stay safe and avoid causing problems. This empowers the majority of students who already has positive behaviors to continue with their healthy choices and influences the minority who does not.
Reactions to social norms messages are often mixed. We hope that Loyola's social norms campaign will encourage critical thinking and discussion among students, faculty, and staff about real vs. perceived behaviors and attitudes about drinking.
The source for much of the above information is "The Main Frame: Strategies for Generating Social Norms News". This document, along with more information about social norms marketing and evidence of its effectiveness in reducing heavy drinking on college campuses, can be found at The National Social Norms Resource Center at www.socialnorm.org. Used with permission.
How do we know that most Loyola students have 0 to 4 drinks when they party and that 9 out of 10 who drink make smart decisions about it? The statistics in Loyola's social norms marketing campaign are based upon the findings of its National College Health Assessment (NCHA) web survey. In April 2003, 662 randomly selected full-time undergraduate Loyola students completed the NCHA. The survey was confidential and completely voluntary. The NCHA asks questions about a broad range of health, risk, and protective behaviors, consequences of behavior, and perceptions among students. A current profile of health trends within the Loyola campus community is obtained by way of annual administration of the NCHA by the LUC Wellness Center. Click here for more Loyola highlights from the NCHA.
Alcohol use in the past 30 days
Loyola students thought that only 2% of students had not drank alcohol in the past 30 days. In fact, 17% reported that they had not drunk alcohol in the past 30 days.
Number of drinks when partying
Most Loyola students (59%) had 0 to 4 drinks the last time they partied.
The median number of drinks consumed by women the last time they partied was 3. The median number of drinks consumed by men the last time they partied was 6.
Safety tips for drinkers
97 % of Loyola students who drink reported using one or more of these tips when they party:
- Alternate non-alcoholic with alcoholic beverages
- Determine in advance not to exceed a set number of drinks
- Choose not to drink alcohol
- Avoid drinking games
- Use a designated driver
- Eat before and/or during drinking
- Have a friend let you know when you've had enough
- Pace drinks to 1 or fewer per hour
- Keep track of how many drinks being consumed
- Drink an alcoholic look-alike
What Loyola students didn't do as a result of their drinking last year:
- 84% did not physically injure themselves
- 97% were not physically injured by another person
- 95% were not involved in a fight
- 62% did not do something they later regretted
- 70% did not forget where they were or what they had done
- 98% did not have someone use force or threat of force to have sex with them
- 87% did not have unprotected sex
Loyolans did! Student artists enrolled in a Visual Communications course in the Fine Arts Department created the posters as part of a class assignment. They were given the social norms messages and were asked to design a creative image to help convey those messages.
The School of Business conducted focus groups in which groups of first-year residents gave their reactions to the posters. Posters were selected and modified as a result of the students' feedback.
Loyola University Chicago Wellness Center is a recipient of the 'Evidenced-based Practices for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention on College Campuses' grant.
This grant is administered by the Illinois Higher Education Center for Alcohol, Other Drug and Violence Prevention of the Office of Safety Programs at Eastern Illinois University, and is funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Bureau of Substance Abuse Prevention.
For more information about Loyola's Social Norms Marketing Campaign on Alcohol, contact Health Promotion at the Wellness Center, at 773-508-2530. More about social norms theory and practice can be found at The National Social Norms Resource Center at www.socialnorm.org.