Alcohol Abuse Prevention
Wes Perkins has spent much of his professional life studying adolescents and young adults. And he's good at evaluating what he witnesses.
For the past two decades he has been studying alcohol and other drug abuse problems among secondary school and college students. His work has given particular attention to uncovering peer misperceptions of alcohol and other drug norms and he is the developer of (the LA Times dubbed him "the father of") the social norms theory. Social Norms Theory simply stated: Students often misperceive the attitudes and common behaviors of their peers as more risky or problematic than is the reality. Wanting to "fit in," they sometimes model those misperceived peer norms. When informed about the real norms of their peers, they modify their behavior to match this more healthy reality. Widely published, he is editor of "The Social Norms Approach to Preventing School and College Age Substance Abuse: A Handbook for Educators, Counselors, and Clinicians" (Jossey-Bass, 2003). Other related publications include:
"Declining Negative Consequences Related to Alcohol Misuse Among Students Exposed to a Social Norms Marketing Intervention on a College Campus" (with J. Turner and J. Bauerle). Journal of American College Health, 2008.
"Misperceptions of Peer Drinking Norms in Canada: Another Look at the 'Reign of Error' and Its Consequences among College Students." Addictive Behaviors, 2007.
"A Successful Social Norms Campaign to Reduce Alcohol Misuse among College Student-Athletes" (with David Craig). Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 2006.
"Misperceiving the College Drinking Norm and Related Problems: A Nationwide Study of Exposure to Prevention Information, Perceived Norms, and Student Alcohol Misuse" (with M Haines and R. Rice). Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 2005.
"Engaging Men as Social Justice Allies in Ending Violence Against Women: Evidence for a Social Norms Approach." (with P. Fabiano, A. Berkowitz, J. Linkenbach, and C. Stark). Journal of American College Health, 2003.
"Social Norms and the Prevention of Alcohol Misuse in Collegiate Contexts." Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 2002.
"Surveying the Damage: A Review of Research on Consequences of Alcohol Misuse in College Populations." Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 2002.
"Alcohol Use, Collegiate Patterns and Problem Of." Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior, Volume IV, 2000.
"Misperceptions of the Norms for the Frequency of Alcohol and Other Drug Use on College Campuses" (with P. Meilman, J.S. Leichliter, J.R. Cashin, and C. Presley). Journal of American College Health, 1999.
Post-collegiate life research
Perkins also began a project in 1987 that now tracks more than 1,500 Hobart and William Smith alums of graduating classes from as far back as the class of 1979 up to the class of 2006 to better understand how the values and lifestyles of each cohort change as they go through various points in their lives. His data provide much insight into recent generations of young adults. From this work he has written articles such as:
"Drinking Motivated by the Desire to Reduce Stress: Life Course and Gender Patterns among College-Educated Young Adults." Alcoscope: International Review of Alcoholism Management, 2000.
"'Supermoms' of the Nineties: Homemaker and Employed Mothers' Performance and Perceptions of the Motherhood Role" (with D. DeMeis). Journal of Family Issues, 1996.
"Gender and Family Effects on the 'Second Shift' Domestic Activity of College-Educated Young Adults" (with D. DeMeis). Gender & Society, 1996.
"Religious Commitment, Yuppie Values, and Well-Being in Post-Collegiate Life." Review of Religious Research, 1991.
Building on his research on graduates, and with the aid of a John Templeton Foundation grant, Perkins has been involved in a project to understand "Forgiveness, Health and Well-Being in the Lives of Post-Collegiate Young Adults." In this project he has conducted in-depth interviews as well as broad-based surveys of adults in their 20s to 40s focusing on how they define, practice, or struggle with forgiving others and themselves and how this is directly related to personal health.
Most recently Perkins has also conducted research on bullying and perceptions of bullying in secondary schools by surveying thousands of students in the U.S. and in England about their experiences as perpetrators and victims.
Interview opportunities and additional background information may be requested through the Office of Communications, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York. Phone: (315) 781-3540. After business hours, Communications staff members are accessible through contact information on their answering machine at that number.
H. Wesley Perkins, Professor of Sociology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, received the B.A. in sociology from Purdue University, the M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and the M.A., M. Phil., and Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University. He is director of the Alcohol Education Project at the Colleges, a nationally recognized initiative providing research, educational resources, and strategies to reduce alcohol and other drug abuse. The Project has received multiple awards from the U.S. Department of Education as a model program, and Perkins has personally received the Outstanding Service Award given by the Network of Colleges and Universities Committed to the Elimination of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse.
Perkins has been invited to deliver over 300 guest lectures, keynote addresses, and workshops for colleges, universities, secondary schools and professional conferences in the United States and internationally. He has served as a consultant for state and national drug abuse agencies, has testified at a U.S. Senate hearing on problems of collegiate alcohol abuse, and has recently had his work on health promotion formally discussed in the Scottish Parliament as a positive strategy to improve healthy behavior in Scotland.
His expertise and research is frequently cited in the press in publications including:
*The New York Times
*The Chicago Tribune
*Los Angeles Times
*The Washington Post
Perkins has also been heard in many broadcast venues across the U.S. and Canada including CNN and numerous regional TV and radio stations.