Perceived norms vs. actual norms

Perceived norms vs. actual norms

Dear Editor,

This month Forks Junior High students were taught about social norms.

Social norms are what is considered normal for a group of people, what most people in a certain group do.

Perceived norms are what people think is the norm, while actual norms are the statistical data which shows what people are reporting themselves. A survey was conducted in the lunchroom about energy drinks.

Students were asked how many energy drinks do junior high students drink on most days?

Survey of 79 students

Perceived norms

0 drinks: 10 percent

1 drink: 14 percent

2 drinks: 39 percent

3+ drinks: 38 percent

How many energy drinks do you drink on most days?

Actual norms:

0 drinks: 56 percent

1 drink: 19 percent

2 drinks: 15 percent

3+ drinks: 10 percent

Notice the difference? What kids think they see is actually quite different than the data they reported themselves.

Most students thought that junior high students are drinking at least two energy drinks every day, when looking at the data of what they reported themselves, most students do not drink energy drinks at all on most days.

This happens because what is different stands out to us, it gets talked about, it gets noticed.

In the classroom, students were asked about the percentage of students they thought drink alcohol in junior high and in high school (asked separately).

Students thought that most students in both the junior high and high school drink alcohol, but data based off the Healthy Youth Survey (taken in October 2018) shows that 85.9 percent of 8th grade junior high students have not drunk in the last 30 days and 73.0 percent of high school students have not drunk alcohol in the last 30 days.

Looking at the data of our schools is encouraging, despite what the perceived norms may say.

Most of our students are doing other healthier things with their time. We want to spread the message that healthy choices are the norm for our students!

Alissa Seda

Student Assistance Professional

Forks Junior High School