Descriptive norms: How specificity versus generality affects planned drinking behavior

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Vol: 18, Issue: 2

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MarkdaSilva, Ana
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
article description
We investigated the effect of specificity versus generality (provinciality) of descriptive norms regarding drinking behavior for light, moderate, and heavy drinkers. We employed a 3 (condition: United States adult, United States undergraduate, or Washington University undergraduate) x 3 (drinker type: light, moderate, or heavy) between-subjects design. Participants were told that the average person in the appropriate setting level consumes four alcoholic drinks per week and then were asked how many alcoholic drinks they had consumed in the last seven days and how many alcoholic drinks they planned to consume in the next seven days. As expected, there was a main effect of drinker type such that heavy drinkers planned to reduce their alcohol consumption more than moderate drinkers, who in turn planned to reduce consumption more than light drinkers, who actually planned to increase consumption. There was no main effect of condition and no interaction between condition and drinker type. There were several limitations to the current study, like the small biased sample employed, that should be addressed in future research on this topic.