This interesting small experiment randomly assigned 101 U.K. college students with excessive drinking to one of four conditions. In each condition, the students received one message a week for four weeks. The messages varied by condition:
- official alcohol consumption guidelines
- how their consumption compared to official guidelines
- how their consumption compared to the sample mean
- where their consumption ranked in the sample
The results indicate that “Participants informed of how their consumption ranked were more likely to request information (p < .01, OR = 6.0) and tended to request a greater number of types of information (p < .01, Wald = 7.17) than those in other conditions.”
The full article, “Brief report: Improving social norms interventions: Rank-framing increases excessive alcohol drinkers’ information-seeking” by Michael J. Taylor PhD, Ivo Vlaev PhD, John Maltby PhD, Gordon D. A. Brown PhD & Alex M. Wood PhD” is available online.