Social norms vs. risk reduction approaches to 21st birthday celebrations

Academic Article


  • Background: Celebratory drinking among college students on their 21st birthday often involves dangerous levels of alcohol consumption. Purpose: This study utilized an experimental design to assess the efficacy of social norm and risk reduction strategies developed to reduce high-risk drinking and alcohol related consequences among college students on their 21st birthday. Methods: Students were randomly assigned to one of four cohorts including a control group, a social norms group, a risk reduction group and a combination of both social norms and risk reduction. Each group received an electronic birthday card with intervention specific information. Students were sent an electronic survey three days after their birthday to assess alcohol consumption levels and related behaviors (n=702). Results: No significant differences existed among the four cohorts in students' drinking behavior, negative consequences, or protective behaviors employed. Discussion: This inquiry revealed that social norm, risk reduction messages or combination of the two strategies, delivered electronically, failed to influence celebratory drinking patterns. Translation to Health Education Practice: Interventions addressing 21st birthday celebrations may need to extend beyond targeting the individual to yield significant behavioral changes. © 2010 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Glassman T; Dodd V; Kenzik K; Miller ME; Sheu JJ
  • Start Page

  • 38
  • End Page

  • 45
  • Volume

  • 41
  • Issue

  • 1