Normative Misperception and the Impact of Descriptive and Injunctive Norms on College Student Gambling

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Two studies examined college student gambling as a function of descriptive and injunctive social norms. It was expected that individuals would overestimate the descriptive norm and that both descriptive and injunctive norms would uniquely predict gambling behavior and problem gambling. In Study 1, self-reported gambling frequency among 317 college students was found to be lower than perceived typical college student gambling behavior. Study 2, which included 560 college students, replicated the results of Study 1 and revealed similar findings with respect to perceived and actual descriptive norms for gambling expenditure. Perceived descriptive and injunctive norms uniquely predicted self-reported gambling frequency, expenditure, and negative consequences related to gambling. The utilization of social norms-based interventions to reduce problem gambling among college students is discussed.

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