Agent Based Model of Social Norms Interventions

The Problem Several colleges and universities have adopted Social Norms Marketing Campaigns (SNMC) as an intervention for college drinking.  Social Norms Theory suggests that most students have an inflated view of the normative drinking on campus, and this misperception is associated with heavier drinking.  SNMCs aim to correct those misperceptions to help reduce the amount students drink.

The Solution Funded by a grant from the NIAAA we developed an agent based model, using identity control and peer influence to model interactions that affect drinking, our Model of College Drinking (MCD).  We simulated SNMCs, modulating the strength of the treatment and how many students the treatment reached, to explore potential effects of these interventions.

The Outcome We observed a reduction in heavy episodic drinking, an effect which diminished as larger fractions of students were reached; in some cases there was a light reverse in that reduction.  The strength of the treatment, how students process the information, and the strength of their susceptibilities to social and identity pressures, all either promote or moderate the effects of SNMCs.


Tempest Technology’s Model of College Drinking (MCD)
Download and unzip
Run TempestTech_MCD_GUI.m in Matlab.