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Welcome to the Web Site
of the National Social Norms Institute

The National Social Norms Institute opened its doors in 2006 at the University of Virginia, a nationally renowned public institution.  The Institute’s origins began in 2000 with the establishment of the National Social Norms Resource Center at Northern Illinois University.  Since moving to UVA, the mission expanded to include research, evaluation, and dissemination of information on the social norms approach to the field. Our goals are to demonstrate and facilitate the extension of the methodology to other health issues and other populations. The NSNI advisory board consists of prominent researchers and academicians in the field.

The National Social Norms Institute is made possible through a generous gift from the Anheuser Busch companies and its charitable foundation.


A Grassroots’ Guide to Fostering Healthy Norms to Reduce Violence in our communities: Social Norms toolkit was created as a guide for the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) and local prevention programs and coordinators to start the process of changing social norms within their communities. The toolkit was authored by Alan D Berkowitz for NJCASA. By providing theory, research and examples, the toolkit lays out a plan of action to guide a Social Norms Marketing Campaign.


The following document  is in response to the statement about social norms interventions appearing in the NIAAA Fact Sheet on College Drinking, published April 2012.  The Social Norms Approach continues to be used successfully to decrease risk behaviors and increase protective and pro-social behaviors in many colleges, universities, schools and communities, nationally and internationally. 


Grantee Schools Overview
This power point highlights the outcomes of our Grantees’ innovative projects using the social norms approach across the United States.


NSNI Executive Director, Dr. James Turner, presented the College Health Surveillance Network (CHSN) at the annual American College Health Association meeting in Chicago in May.  CHSN is the first ever network of electronic medical records from 20 universities, including nearly 608,000 college students.  With funding secured by the Centers for Disease Control, the network was established to collect valid and reliable estimates of health conditions and health service utilization.  To read more, click here for an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education and here for an article in Inside Higher Ed.


The first national database of college health service utilization and epidemiology has been established at NSNI thanks to funding from the CDC.  If you want to see fascinating data from the new College Health Surveillance Network (CHSN): click here For an overview of the Network, click here 


NSNI’s Executive Director, James C. Turner, M.D., presents ground-breaking study on the leading causes of mortality among American college students at the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting in Washington, DC


Drs. Flemming Balvig and Lars Holmberg at the University of Copenhagen and researchers with the Ringsted Project recently published the following article, The Ripple Effect:  A Randomized Trial of a Social Norms Intervention in a Danish Middle School Setting.  Results from this successful randomized trial using a social norms intervention in a Danish middle school, can be found here


A new video was released featuring Dr. Wesley Perkins providing a short (9 minute) overview of the social norms approach to health promotion.  Click here for WMV VIDEO format or MOV VIDEO format. (Note:  The MOV formatted version may take a few minutes to download on some computers.)


NSNI is pleased to announce that archives of The Report on Social Norms, a publication founded and edited by Dr. Alan Berkowitz, are now available on this web site. The Report was published from 2001 to 2005 in various formats, such as quarterlies and working papers, and is an excellent resource for early materials on the approach.

Individual issues and indices organized by author, topic, and title, in PDFs, can be found under the Resources section of this site.


Recent Research

An impressive number of articles were published last year concerning the role of social norms in a broad range of areas, including gambling, tax compliance, energy conservation, risky sexual behavior, and high-risk alcohol consumption. As always, complete abstracts for these articles are available in the section of our web site devoted to Recent Research.

Bleakley, A., Piotrowski, J.T., Hennessy, M., & Jordan, A. (2013). Predictors of parents' intention to limit children's television viewing. Journal of Public Health, doi:10.1093/pubmed/fds104

Burchell, K., Rettie, R. and Patel, K. (2013), Marketing social norms: Social marketing and the ‘social norm approach’. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 12: 1–9. doi: 10.1002/cb.1395

Cullum, J. O’Grady, M., Sandoval, P., Armeli, S., & Tennen, H. (2013). Ignoring Norms with a Little Help from my Friends: Social Support Reduces Normative Influence on Drinking Behavior. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 32(1), pp.17-33

Irwin, K. & Simpson, B. (2013). Do Descriptive Norms Solve Social Dilemmas? Conformity and Contributions in Collective Action Groups. Social Forces, doi:10.1093/sf/sos196

Kam, J. A. and Middleton, A. V. (2013), The Associations Between Parents' References to Their Own Past Substance Use and Youth's Substance-Use Beliefs and Behaviors: A Comparison of Latino and European American Youth. Human Communication Research. doi: 10.1111/hcre.12001

Kunz, J.H., Neff Greenley, R., Mussatto, K.A., Roth-Wojcicki, B., Miller, T. Freeman, M.E. and Lerand, S. (2013). Personal Attitudes, perceived social norms, and health risk behavior among female adolescents with chronic medical conditions Journal of Health Psychology.

Latkin, C., Donnell, D., Liu, T.-Y., Davey-Rothwell, M., Celentano, D. and Metzger, D. (2013), The dynamic relationship between social norms and behaviors: the results of an HIV prevention network intervention for injection drug users. Addiction. doi: 10.1111/add.12095

Lemon, S. Liu, Q., Magner, R., Schneider, K.L., & Pbert, L. (2103). Development and Validation of Worksite Weight-Related Social Norms Surveys. American Journal of Health Behavior, 37(1), pp. 111-129.

Linos, N., Slopen, N., Subramanian, S.V., Berkman, L., and Kawachi, I. (2013). Influence of Community Social Norms on Spousal Violence: A Population-Based Multilevel Study of Nigerian Women. American Journal of Public Health, 103(1), pp. 148-155.

Miller, B.A., Bynes, H.F., Branner, A., Johnson, M., and Voas, R. (2013). Group Influences on Individuals’ Drinking and Other Drug Use at Clubs. . Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 74(2).

Mollen, S., Rimal, R.V., Ruiter, R.A.C., Kok, G. (2013). Healthy and unhealthy social norms and food selection: Findings from a field-experiment. Appetite, 65, pp. 83-89.

Neighbors, C., Brown, G.A., Dibello, A.M., Rodriguez, L.M., and Foster, D.W. (2013). Reliance on God, Prayer, and Religion Reduces Influence of Perceived Norms on Drinking. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 74(3).

Neighbors, C., Foster, D., Walker, D.D., Kilmer, J. and Lee, C.M. (2013). Social Identity as a Moderator of the Association Between Perceived Norms and Marijuana Use. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 74(3).

Procter-Scherdtel, A. and Collins, D. (2103). Social norms and smoking bans on campus: interactions in the Canadian university context. Health Education Research, 28 (1), pp. 101-112.

Rocheleau, C. A. (2013), Organ donation intentions and behaviors: application and extension of the theory of planned behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43: 201–213. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2012.00998.x