“Everybody else is doing it”—norm perceptions among parents of adolescents

Conor Gilligan*, Kara Thompson, Jesse Bourke, Kypros Kypri, Tim Stockwell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)



Parents are a common source of alcohol for adolescent drinking. Few studies have examined the possible determinants of parental alcohol supply. We investigated the associations between parents' supply of alcohol, their attitudes concerning the supply of alcohol (personal norms), and their beliefs about other parents' attitudes and behavior (injunctive and descriptive social norms).


A web-based survey was completed by 490 parents of 12- to 18-year-olds from Australia (n = 251) and Canada (n = 239). Path analysis was used to test a conceptual model of the relationships between social norm constructs and supply of alcohol at home and for unsupervised consumption.


Personal norms were the most important factor in parents' decisions to supply alcohol to adolescents for consumption both at home and in unsupervised settings. Descriptive and injunctive proximal norms were directly associated with supply of alcohol at home. Injunctive and descriptive proximal norms were indirectly associated with unsupervised supply through their positive association with personal norms.


The path models identify personal norms relating to adolescent alcohol consumption as the variable most strongly associated with decisions to supply alcohol to adolescents both at home and in unsupervised settings, with associations between injunctive and descriptive norms operating via this pathway. Proximal norms have a more powerful influence on parents' personal norms than do distal norms. These associations have important implications for the design of interventions to reduce parental supply of alcohol and adolescent risky drinking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)908-918
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


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