Objective: To proffer a theoretically-driven assessment of the validity of research which examines alcohol-related normative beliefs. Method: A systematic review of 72 articles matching the inclusion criteria, published between 1970 and 2013. Results: Potential causes of deviations in research findings are identified and compelling gaps in our knowledge with regards to the influence of participant gender, age and contextual factors are highlighted and discussed in relation to the broader literature. Conclusions: It is proposed that a standardization of research approaches and alcohol intake measures are required in order to increase the validity of present research, and enable useful comparisons between studies. Further attention to key, potentially mediatory variables is also highlighted as important for increasing research validity with a view to facilitating the improvement of interventions.