Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

Submitted in part fulfilment of the requirements of Dublin Institute of Rechnology for the award of Doctor of Philosophy.


The current Irish policies have not been adequately effective in reducing alcohol consumption. There is a need to consider alternative strategies, such as the increasingly popular SN marketing campaigns, which have been applied successfully in the US college system. However, the potential of these campaigns has not been evaluated in Ireland. It is also not clear from the literature if descriptive or injunctive norm types will be more likely to induce behaviour change. Further, while SN interventions tend to provide ‘friends’ or ‘typical student’ as referent groups, little is understood about how individuals visualize these groups and how salient these peers are. The present study addressed these issues by combining web based survey methods with social network analysis. Hierarchical multiple regression was used to analyse a web survey of 1700 DIT students. Further, 26 ego networks generated via in depth interviews were examined using network techniques combined with a qualitative analysis to understand norm salience. The study provides evidence of overestimations of the campus drinking norm at DIT. It shows that perceived norms impact personal consumption and that social distance is a key consideration in this regards. Further, the findings demonstrate that descriptive norms are stronger predictors of personal consumption than injunctive norms. Most importantly, the study provides evidence that individuals’ social networks are key determinants of their drinking behaviours and that the most salient peers for DIT students are embedded in cohesive sub groups outside college. The study does not support using SN campaigns to reduce alcohol consumption in DIT. It urges policy makers to address norm salience in intervention work as it is critical for the applicability, planning and success of SN campaigns.


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