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Stall Seat Journal

Social Norms Programming at UVA

Ever wonder what the Stall Seat Journal (SSJ) is all about? At UVA, most students are making healthy choices most of the time, but sometimes people underestimate healthy behaviors among their peers. Social norms programs correct misperceptions by providing accurate data highlighting healthy behaviors. Showcasing healthy choices frees students to make decisions that align with their values. This is based on social norms theory and is the foundation for several programs at UVA, including the Stall Seat Journal.

For more information about social norms theory and marketing, please visit the National Social Norms Center.

Stall Seat Journal



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Why the misperceptions?

People tend to underestimate certain healthy behaviors when the behaviors are largely invisible or when they are part of a pattern that doesn’t stand out or grab attention. Studying, flossing, meditating, and using a condom are all examples of behaviors we may not notice in those around us. Likewise, many unhealthy behaviors are highly visible and draw our attention because they stand out from the typical patterns. Examples of behaviors that are highly visible – but not the norm at UVA – include smoking or drinking until passing out at a party. Underestimating healthy behaviors and overestimating less healthy behaviors can create internal pressure to behave in riskier ways. When students’ misperceptions are corrected and they become conscious of the true norms, they have freedom to act according to their own values.

Our Data

The data we share comes directly from UVA students, so it’s relevant on Grounds. The Office of Health Promotion has been coordinating surveys of representative samples of UVA students since 1999. That means that each survey sample reflects the academic year, ethnicity, and sex distributions of the UVA student body. The surveys are voluntary and anonymous to promote honesty and completeness in self-reporting. If you are invited to participate, please know that your responses will help improve health in Hooville!

Our Material

Social norms programming takes the approach of highlighting healthy behaviors that most students choose, instead of focusing on risky choices that are less common. This is shown in research to be effective in helping people adopt healthy behaviors, and is an intentional deviation from the scare tactic approach (which research has shown to be ineffective). Our materials provide comprehensive, accurate information presented in a non-authoritarian, non-judgmental manner. In fact, all materials from the Office of Health Promotion take a health-positive approach with respect for students’ independence and capability in decision making.


Get Involved with SSJ

The goal of the Stall Seat Journal is to empower UVA students to make healthy choices by (1) correcting misperceptions about health decisions and life choices and (2) providing accurate information about staying safe, minimizing health risks, accessing resources, and supporting the UVA community.

The Stall Seat Journal is produced by students and public health staff in the Office of Health Promotion. Two issues are released each month. The Stall Seat Journal can be found in First Year housing, Newcomb Hall Student Center, Student Health and Wellness, several libraries, and more.


Previous Stall Seat Journals

Volume 23 (2022-2023)
Volume 22 (2021-2022)
Volume 21 (2020-2021)
Volume 20 (2019-2020)
Volume 19 (2018-2019)
Volume 18 (2017-2018)
Volume 17 (2016-2017)
Volume 16 (2015-2016)
Volume 15 (2014-2015)