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A Failed Norms Social Marketing Campaign

John D. Clapp, James E. Lange, Cristel Russell, Audrey Shillington, Robert B. Voas

Objective: In this article we test the efficacy of an intensive norms social marketing campaign to reduce heavy drinking among college students living in a residence hall. Method: We employed a pretest- posttest nonequivalent comparison group design. The study was conducted in two (experimental and comparison) comparable residence halls located in a large urban public university. We attempted a census at each hall, and pre- and postintervention data were collected in public areas of each residence hall. Relative sample sizes were approximately 60% in the experimental hall (both waves) and 38% in the comparison hall. Results: The campaign successfully corrected studentsí misperceptions of drinking norms but had no effects, or counterintuitive effects, on drinking behaviors. Conclusions: Despite the popularity of this approach, universities would be prudent to proceed with care before adopting this approach wholesale. (J. Stud. Alcohol 64: 409-414, 2003)