The Most of Us campaign focuses on the healthy, smart, and safe choices of MU students. Statistics are compiled from the annual Bystander Survey. Current numbers are obtained from the 2016 Bystander Survey from a randomly selected sample of MU students (n=711). Other data are taken from the 2017 Missouri Assessment of College Health Behaviors Survey (MACHB) (n=1462).
Most of Us Make Healthy Choices
- 98% of MU students are not weekly or daily smokers
- 8 out of 10 MU students eat before or during drinking
Most of Us Make Smart Choices98% of MU students would care for an intoxicated friend
Most of Us Drink Responsibly98% of MU students would stop an intoxicated friend from harming themselves or others
"Where are those from? Who takes these surveys?"
Missouri Assessment of College Health Behaviors Survey (MACHB)
The Wellness Resource Center's Missouri Assessment of College Health Behaviors Survey (MACHB) has been implemented since 2007. Prior to 2006, the survey was called the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey, and was a paper survey administered in classrooms. The MACHB was created based off the CORE and is administered electronically. Questions on the survey assess alcohol and drug usage as well as common negative consequences among college students. For more information about the MACHB, visit the Partners in Prevention website at pip.missouri.edu.
The Bystander Survey is administered annually to 5,000 MU undergraduate students via the internet. The purpose of the survey is to measure how likely students are to intervene in potentially harmful situations with their friends or with strangers. Additionally, the survey measures students' perceptions of how likely they think their peers are to intervene in the same situations. The results are used to implement our social norming campaign, as well as determine where programming and interventions may be most needed to encourage students to help their friends.
Who takes the Bystander Survey and MACHB?
The registrar's office provides the WRC with a random sample of 25% of the students population's email addresses. Since we know that females are more likely to respond to surveys than males, we ask the registrar for a larger sample of males so the numbers will be representative in the final sample. Also, there are more freshman and seniors on campus than sophomores or juniors, so we ask for the same class proportions in our email list, so our final sample is representative of the student population. After we get the list of email addresses, we send out the survey to those students.
Each year, approximately 20% of the people who receive the survey email choose to complete the actual survey. This number represents at least 5% of the total MU student population. Our sample can adequately represents the university student body as research suggests that a random 5% sample is sufficient to measure a population.
The MACHB is a state-wide survey used by 21 colleges and universities in Missouri. For the MU sample (as well as the other schools), the same sampling technique is used as previously described.
How can such a small sample represent all students?
Our 5% sample size adequately represents the students at Mizzou, because we randomly sample the students.
Our sample size is really no different from other surveys you may find from other organizations. For example, the Gallup poll samples between 1000-1500 Americans for public opinion polls, when there's a base population of about 230 million Americans!
"Probability sampling is the fundamental basis for all survey research. The basic principle: a randomly selected, small percent of a population of people can represent the attitudes, opinions, or projected behavior of all of the people, if the sample is selected correctly.
The fundamental goal of a survey is to come up with the same results that would have been obtained had every single member of a population been interviewed. For national Gallup polls, in other words, the objective is to present the opinions of a sample of people which are exactly the same opinions that would have been obtained had it been possible to interview all adult Americans in the country.
The key to reaching this goal is a fundamental principle called equal probability of selection, which states that if every member of a population has an equal probability of being selected in a sample, then that sample will be representative of the population. It's that straightforward." (Source)
Our "Most of Us" campaign is a social norming part of our harm-reduction approach to alcohol, drug and tobacco use among MU college students.
We know that most students will drink about as much as they perceive their peers drink. However, we know that most MU students often overestimate how much they drink. So, we believe that social norms is an approach that accurately breaks down perceptions among students.
"This [social norms] theory holds that if students perceive something to be the norm, they tend to alter their behavior to fit that norm, even if it isn't reality. If, however, they are presented with the actual norm, they will conform to it. So if students think heavy drinking is normal they'll drink more. If they think responsible drinking is normal, they'll drink more responsibly."
-Michael Haines, Social Norms Resource Center Director
It is our desire at the Wellness Resource Center to see students make healthy, safe and smart decisions. We hope sharing the truth of actual campus behavior will help our students make decisions that are healthy, safe and smart.
What is the purpose of social norming?
Social norm theory states that individuals are highly influenced by what they think their peers are doing or thinking. The theory also states that students typically overestimate problem behavior, such as high risk alcohol consumption, and underestimate healthy behavior. The theory predicts these misperceptions increase problem behaviors and decrease healthy behaviors, because students are acting in accordance to what they think is "normal". Social norm theory predicts that correcting misperceptions of the norm is likely to result in decreased problem behavior and an increase in healthy behavior.
Studies on our campus have shown that our students tend to overestimate how much and how often other students drink. The Wellness Resource Center is trying to share the accurate picture of student alcohol consumption at Mizzou, with the expectation that doing so (combined with our comprehensive approach) will result in a larger number of students drinking moderately or abstaining, and a smaller number of students making high risk choices. This type of strategy, when implemented appropriately, has been successful at a number of colleges and universities across the country.
For a more detailed discussion of social norms theory and the research associated with it, visit the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Issues or the National Social Norms Resource Center.
Won't the message make students who abstain feel pressured to start drinking?
Research on this issue has consistently shown that this does not happen. Rather, because those who abstain from alcohol fall within the "0-4 drinks" range, they report feeling less pressure to drink more.
I don't believe the message because these numbers seem too low. How can they be true, with all the parties and problems we hear about?
It's not surprising that many individuals are skeptical about this message. Virtually everyone has misperceptions about students alcohol use. The problems associated with alcohol are what are reported in the news. And when students come back from parties they talk about the fights, the vomit, the sex, the drunkenness, not about all the people who are drinking responsibly. Since we notice what is exciting or different or tragic, that's what we focus on, and that's what we talk about. When individuals in conversation glamorize and generalize high risk drinking (i.e. "everyone was so wasted at that party last night") then high risk drinking seems to be the norm. However, when people start to pay attention to what is really happening at parties, they begin to notice that it usually is only a small number of individuals who are drinking the largest amount of alcohol and causing the most problems.
What can faculty and staff members do?
There is an old saying that states, "It takes a village to raise a child". This saying is quite appropriate with the issue of alcohol and other drug abuse among college students. All of us need to work together to create an environment that supports and encourages students to make good decisions about alcohol. Keeping students accountable, not making jokes about alcohol or condoning use is imperative. In addition it is important to help students who may be at risk for alcohol problems to know what resources are available. If you or your students have questions about alcohol use and other health behaviors , please visit wellness.missouri.edu.
How do I find out more information?
For more information on the Wellness Resource Center's social norming campaigns or to request posters, contact the Wellness Resource Center at (573) 882-4634 or visit us in G202 MU Student Center.