Friday, December 11, 2015

Literature Review #5: The social norms approach: Theory, research and annotated bibliography

Berkowitz, Alan D. "The social norms approach: Theory, research and annotated bibliography." Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention. US Department of Education (2004).

Alan Berkowitz provides an overview of the social norms approach that he developed and how it relates to college drinking. His findings showed that during his study, college students would regularly overestimate the alcohol consumption of their peers and the extent to which their peers were supportive of drinking behaviors. He found that the students estimations of their peers had a direct relationship to the amount that person drank. He also describes several key terms that are used to interpret social norms and the misconceptions behind them.

Berkowitz is the creator of the social norms approach, along with his partner H.W. Perkins. Berkowitz is the go-to source for all information pertaining to his social norms theory and any information from his resources are directly from the point of view of the man who invented it.

Key Terms-

Pluralistic Ignorance: "occurs when a majority of individuals falsely assume that most of their peers behave or think differently from them when in fact their attitudes and/or behavior are similar" (Berkowitz, 7)

False Consensus- "the incorrect belief that others are like one-self when in fact they are not" (Berkowitz, 7)

False Uniqueness- "occurs when individuals who are in the minority assume that the difference between themselves and others is greater than is actually the case" (Berkowitz, 8)

"When drug prevention emphasizes problem behavior without acknowledging the actual healthy norm, it may foster the erroneous belief that drinking problems are worse than is actually the case and inadvertently contribute to the problem it is trying to solve" (Berkowitz, 5). 

“...encourages individuals to suppress healthy attitudes and behaviors that are falsely thought to be non-conforming and to provide encouragement to engage in the unhealthy behaviors that are seen incorrectly as normative" (Berkowitz, 7)

This study provides the backbone and the theoretical framework to my entire argument. I will be engaging the problem of college drinking through the lenses of social norms theory and Berkowitz's study will prove to be invaluable in making my argument.

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