Publication Date



Alcohol education, Behaviour patterns, Drug education, Health education, Literature reviews, Social behaviour, Well being


Life Education Australia commissioned the Australian Council for Educational Research to provide a summary of research related to interventions that used a social norms approach (SNA). The review focused on interventions aimed at reducing risky behaviours in secondary school students, particularly related to use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Research questions There were two key questions guiding this literature review: Question 1: If we make more realistic the perceptions of young people about the levels of risky behaviour, and attitudes towards these risky behaviours, amongst their peers, is that likely to reduce the likelihood of them engaging in such risky behaviour? Question 2: If so, what are the critical design features of interventions targeting young people that have been successful in correcting perceptions about peer attitudes and behaviours? This report provides an overview of the concepts, theory and history of the social norms approach, and briefly describes the secondary school SNA programs identified. The middle section collates success factors in designing SNA interventions, and limitations of the implementations and research methodology of SNA studies. The review concludes with discussion of the evidence of effectiveness of SNA programs in secondary schools, and recommendations for undertaking a pilot SNA project.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Place of Publication

Camberwell, Australia


Australian Council for Educational Research