While affiliation with Greek fraternities/sororities and intercollegiate athletic teams is associated with heavier drinking (Meilman et al., 1999), few studies have compared reasons for drinking among these groups. A sample of 1,541 students, identifying as either Greeks or athletes, completed an online survey. Athletes were significantly higher than Greeks on conformity reason for drinking. Tests of independent correlations indicated the magnitude of the past behavior to intention link was considerably stronger for Greeks. Greeks experienced significantly more social problems from drinking. Several group by gender ANOVA models found significant main effects with highest drinking rates, usually among Greek males, and lowest among female athletes. Understanding these specific group differences informs recommendations for group-specific and tailored educational interventions, which are discussed.
college drinking; intentions; Greek affiliation; college student athletes
Misperceptions of peer drinking norms have been found to be strongly associated with individual drinking behavior, especially for proximal reference groups such as same-sex friends. Less studied are the effects of perceived preferences from the opposite sex on alcohol use; that is, the behaviors an individual believe the opposite sex prefers from them. Research suggests that these perceived “reflective” normative preferences may be particularly salient among college women, who may drink in pursuit of intimate relationships and positive attention from male peers. Heterosexual undergraduate students from two universities participated in this project. Females answered questions regarding the amount of alcohol they believe a typical male would like his female friends, dates, or romantic partners to drink. Males answered the same questions, stating their actual preferences. Results showed that females overestimate the amount of alcohol males want their female friends, dating partners, and sexual partners to drink, and that this misperception was associated with their drinking behavior, even after controlling for perceived same-sex norms. These results suggest that reflective normative feedback may offer a powerful new tool for female-targeted interventions.
gender; college students; alcohol; social norms; personalized normative feedback
The present study examined risk factors related to “blacking out” (e.g., temporary periods of memory loss during drinking) during preparty drinking events (i.e., pregaming, predrinking). Participants were students from two universities on the West Coast who reported past month prepartying (N = 2,546) in online surveys administered in the fall of 2008. Among these students, 25% (n = 636) reported blacking out during at least one occasion in which they prepartied in the past month. A logistic regression model underscored that Greek student affiliation, family history of alcohol abuse, frequency of prepartying, and both playing drinking games and consuming shots of liquor while prepartying increased the likelihood of blacking out. Limitations and implications for future research and collegiate prevention strategies are discussed.
alcohol; prepartying; pregaming; alcohol-induced; blackout; college students
The social norms approach to college drinking suggests that students misperceive the drinking behavior and attitudes of their peers. While much is known about these misperceptions, research is sparse regarding the context in which perceived and actual norms are assessed. As social influence is pronounced in college, the principles of Social Impact Theory may contribute to differences between assessments performed individually and those completed when surrounded by members of one’s salient reference group. The current study examines 284 members of campus organizations in two contexts (online and group) to determine if individuals endorse different responses to questions of perceived and actual drinking norms across contexts. All participants endorsed higher responses on questions of actual and perceived group behavior and of perceived group attitudes towards drinking during the group assessment. Men and students in Greek organizations may be more influenced by the proximity of their peers when presented with questions regarding perceived alcohol use. These results suggest that context of assessment needs to be considered when collecting self-report data from college students.
Social norms; College drinking; Greek students; Social Impact Theory
Of the alcohol-related risks faced by college students, it is arguable that none presents a greater public health hazard than driving after drinking (DAD). The present study examined the extent to which students’ injunctive misperceptions toward DAD predicted the likelihood to engage in DAD and how this relation was mediated by self-approval of DAD. Participants were 2,848 college students (59.1% female, 64.6% Caucasian) from two U.S. West Coast universities who completed confidential web-based surveys assessing DAD beliefs and behaviors. Results revealed that respondents tended to overestimate their peers’ approval toward DAD. Moreover, the subgroups likely to engage in DAD—men, 21+ years of age, Greek affiliated students, Caucasians, students with a family history of alcohol abuse—were also more likely to misperceive (i.e., overestimate) their peers’ level of approval toward DAD. Using binary logistic regression analyses, self-approval of DAD emerged as an important statistical mediator in the relation between misperception of typical student approval toward DAD and engagement in DAD. Results point to the considerable role injunctive peer misperceptions may play in the pathways leading to drinking-driving risk. These findings provide preliminary support for DAD-specific social normative interventions, either complementing or supplementing existing alcohol interventions. By targeting high-risk student subgroups and communicating accurate drinking-driving norms, these proposed interventions have the potential to reduce self-approval and incidence of DAD.
This study examines the relationship between sexual experience and various drinking measures in 550 incoming first-year college females. During this transition period, sexually experienced participants reported stronger alcohol expectancies and endorsed higher drinking motives, and drank more frequently and in greater quantities than sexually inexperienced participants. Sexual status was also a significant predictor of alcohol-related nonsexual consequences, over and above amount consumed. Furthermore, controlling for drinking, sexual status moderated the relationship between coping motives and consequences. Among women who endorsed strong coping motives for drinking, sexual experience was linked to greater nonsexual alcohol-related consequences. Implications for prevention and intervention are discussed.
alcohol; alcohol-related consequences; college females; college transitions; drinking motives; sexual experience
The present study is the first to examine the moderating effects of mental and social health status in the relationship between protective behavioral strategies utilized to reduce high-risk drinking (e.g., alternating alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks or avoiding drinking games) and alcohol outcomes (drinking variables and alcohol-related negative consequences) among first-year college females (N = 128). Findings revealed that protective behaviors were particularly effective in reducing both alcohol consumption and related risks among participants reporting lower mental health as compared to higher mental health. Further, participants with higher social health who utilized protective behaviors consumed significantly fewer maximum drinks per occasion than did peers who also employed protective behaviors but reported lower social health. Explanation of findings and implications for campus intervention initiatives are discussed.
The current study examined hooking up experiences through event-level analyses, including the connections involving alcohol use, the extent of physical contact, and postevaluations of the hookup event. Participants were 828 college students (67.0% female). Of students who reported hooking up sometime within the past year (54.8%), chi-square analyses revealed that they were more likely to have been drinking when they met their partners the night of the hookup. Females who were drinking beforehand and females who met their partners that night were more likely to feel discontent with their hookup decisions. Among participants who consumed alcohol prior to their last hookup, a notable 30.7% of females and 27.9% of males indicated that they would likely not have hooked up with their partners had alcohol not been involved. Further, 34.4% of females and 27.9% of males indicated that they would not have gone as far physically if they had not been drinking. Among participants who reported both drinking beforehand and hooking up with unfamiliar partners, greater number of drinks consumed was associated with more advanced sexual behaviors. The current findings highlight the potential risks associated with alcohol use in the hooking up culture.
This study evaluated the predictive power of perceived descriptive and injunctive norms on intercollegiate student-athlete alcohol consumption and attitudes toward drinking-related behaviors. The sample consisted of 594 NCAA student-athletes from two geographically opposite sites. Norms variables utilized a school and gender-specific athletic peer reference group. Results indicate that respondents reported greater perceived injunctive norms than actual attitudes, and greater perceived descriptive norms than actual alcohol use. Further, after accounting for demographics and alcohol motivations, perceived injunctive norms were the strongest predictors of athletes' attitudes with the final model explaining 54% of the variance. Similarly, perceived descriptive norms were among the strongest predictors of alcohol use with the final model explaining 69% of the variance. Future research may want to use both of these perceived norms constructs to create a more salient and targeted social norms intervention aimed at reducing risky behavior and permissive alcohol-related attitudes among this population. Utilizing this strong peer reference group as well as targeting both injunctive and descriptive norms may increase the power and saturation of prevention and intervention strategies.
Social norms; Intercollegiate athlete; Alcohol; Gender; Intervention
This study examined the extent to which protective behavioral strategies (PBS) mediated the influence of drinking motives on alcohol consumption, and if these hypothesized relationships were corroborated across subsamples of gender and race.
Online surveys were completed by 1592 heavy drinking college undergraduates from two universities (49.9% male and 50.1% female; 76.9% Caucasian and 23.1% Asian). Independent samples t-tests compared males and females as well as Caucasians and Asians on measures of drinking motives, PBS use, and alcohol consumption, and structural equation models examined the mediating role of PBS.
Consistent with predictions, t-tests revealed that males reported greater levels of consumption than females, but females reported greater use of PBS than males. Caucasians reported greater consumption levels, endorsed higher enhancement motives, and higher PBS related to serious harm reduction, but Asians endorsed higher coping and conformity motives, and PBS focused on stopping/limiting drinking. In multiple-sample SEM analyses, PBS were shown to largely mediate the relationship between motives and consumption in all demographic subsamples.
Findings indicate that PBS use leads to reductions in drinking despite pre-established drinking motives, hence pointing to the potential value of standalone PBS skills training interventions in lowering alcohol use among diverse groups of heavy drinking college students.
Alcohol; Protective behavioral strategies; Drinking motives; College students; Gender; Race
Given the important contextual function of family dynamics and traditional gender roles in Latino cultures, parental influences on substance use among Latino adolescents may differ across genders. This study examined associations between family factors (parental monitoring, parent–child communication, family cohesion, and familism) and marijuana use among 1,369 Latino adolescents in Southern California. Students from seven schools completed surveys in 9th and 11th grades. Longitudinal hierarchical linear regression analyses evaluated the associations between family factors in 9th grade and lifetime marijuana use in 11th grade, as well as gender differences in these associations. Girls reported higher levels of parental monitoring, parental communication, and familism than boys did, but there were no gender differences in family cohesiveness. In a regression model controlling for covariates and previous marijuana use, parent–child communication and family cohesion in 9th grade were each uniquely predictive of lower levels of marijuana consumption in 11th grade. Gender was a statistical moderator, such that higher levels of parent–child communication predicted lower marijuana use among boys, whereas girls’ use was relatively low regardless of parent–child communication levels. Results are discussed in the light of the concurrent socialization processes of family and gender in Latino culture and its relation to preventing delinquent behaviors such as marijuana use.
adolescents; family; gender; Hispanic; Latino; longitudinal; marijuana; parents
The present study examined the moderating role of health status (physical, mental, and social health) and the relationships between protective behavioral strategies utilized to reduce high-risk drinking (e.g., avoiding drinking games, setting consumption limits, or having a designated driver) and alcohol use and negative consequences in a sample of heavy drinking college students (N = 1,820). In this high risk sample, multiple regression analyses showed that stronger social health was related to increased drinking, while poorer physical, mental, and social health were related to increased alcohol negative consequences. Further, moderation effects revealed that increasing the use of protective behaviors was associated with significantly less drinking in those with stronger social health, as well as significantly lower numbers of negative consequences among participants with poorer physical and mental health. Implications for college counselors and medical personnel are discussed.
Drinking motives are vital in identifying risk factors and better understanding alcohol-related outcomes. However, context-specific motivations could provide greater motivational perspective on high-risk context-specific alcohol use behaviors such as prepartying (consuming alcohol prior to attending one’s intended destination) than general alcohol motivations. In the current study, students’ open-ended responses to reasons for prepartying were collected from a large diverse sample (n = 2497), and the most commonly offered reasons were used to create a prepartying motivations inventory (PMI) that was then administered to a different sample (n = 1085). A split-half validation procedure was used for the purpose of evaluating the PMI’s factor structure. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses yielded a final 12-item measure consisting of four distinct, but inter-related, factors: Interpersonal Enhancement, Situational Control, Intimate Pursuit, and Barriers to Consumption. Internal consistency reliability, discriminant validity, and criterion-related validity were empirically demonstrated. Results support the notion that individuals preparty for a variety of reasons that are distinct from general motives. Researchers are encouraged to use the PMI in future research with young adults to provide further understanding of prepartying behavior and its psychosocial correlates.
Reflective opposite sex norms are behavior that an individual believes the opposite sex prefers them to do. The current study extends research on this recently introduced construct by examining estimates and influences of reflective norms on drinking in a large high-risk heterosexual sample of male and female college students from two universities. Both gender and Greek-affiliation served as potential statistical moderators of the reflective norms and drinking relationship. All participants (N = 1790; 57% female) answered questions regarding the amount of alcohol they believe members of the opposite sex would like their opposite sex friends, dates, and sexual partners to drink. Participants also answered questions regarding their actual preferences for drinking levels in each of these three relationship categories. Overall, women overestimated how much men prefer their female friends and potential sexual partners to drink, whereas men overestimated how much women prefer their sexual partners to drink. Greek-affiliated males demonstrated higher reflective norms than non-Greek males across all relationship categories, and for dating partners, only Greek-affiliated males misperceived women’s actual preferences. Among women however, there were no differences between reflective norms estimates or the degree of misperception as a function of Greek status. Most importantly, over and above perceived same-sex social norms, higher perceived reflective norms tended to account for greater variance in alcohol consumption for Greeks (vs. non-Greeks) and males (vs. females), particularly within the friend and sexual partner contexts. The findings highlight that potential benefits might arise if existing normative feedback interventions were augmented with reflective normative feedback designed to target the discrepancy between perceived and actual drinking preferences of the opposite sex.
reflective norms; college students; alcohol; fraternity and sorority; social norms; normative feedback
One effective event-level index that can assist in identifying risky intoxication levels among college students is blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Despite widespread exposure to BAC information, doubt exists as to whether American college students can accurately estimate their own BAC level or drinking behaviors while intoxicated. This study assessed whether students can accurately guesstimate their BAC level (gBAC) and drinking behaviors used to estimate BAC (eBAC) while drinking in social college settings
Participants (N = 225; 56.4% male) consisted of emerging adults attending either a two- or four-year college who had at least one alcoholic drink within the two hours prior to assessment. Participants were approached at night when returning from parties and/or alcohol-serving establishments. They completed an initial questionnaire, gave a breath sample to assess breath alcohol content (BrAC), and then completed an on-line follow-up questionnaire within 48 hours of baseline assessment.
Participants at lower levels of intoxication tended to slightly overestimate their BAC level, while those at higher levels tended to markedly underestimate their BAC level. In addition, discrepancies among BrAC, gBAC, and eBAC were found as a function of gender. Lastly, differences in eBAC scores did not differ when drinking behaviors were obtained via in vivo versus retrospective methodology.
Findings suggest that college students generally have difficulty assessing their BAC level and drinking behaviors while drinking in the college social setting. This study offers particular insight for research relying on estimates of BAC as well as interventions utilizing BAC education.
Driving after drinking (DAD) is a serious public health concern found to be more common among college students than those of other age groups or same-aged non-college peers. The current study examined potential predictors of DAD among a dual-site sample of 3,753 (65% female, 58% Caucasian) college students. Results showed that 19.1% of respondents had driven after 3 or more drinks and 8.6% had driven after 5 or more drinks in the past three months. A logistic regression model showed that male status, fraternity or sorority affiliation, family history of alcohol abuse, medium or heavy drinking (as compared to light drinking), more approving self-attitudes towards DAD, and alcohol expectancies for sexual enhancement and risk/aggression, were independently associated with driving after drinking over and above covariates. These results extend the current understanding of this high risk drinking behavior in collegiate populations and provide implications for preventive strategies. Findings indicate that in addition to targeting at-risk subgroups, valuable directions for DAD-related interventions may include focusing on lowering both self-approval of DAD and alcohol-related expectancies, particularly those associated with risk/aggression and sexuality.
alcohol; driving; drinking; injunctive norms; expectancies
College students who violate campus alcohol policies (adjudicated students) are at high risk for experiencing negative alcohol-related consequences and for undermining campus life. Further, college women may be especially at risk due to differential intoxication effects and sexual consequences experienced mainly by female students. Research on interventions for adjudicated students, especially adjudicated females, has been limited. One hundred and fifteen college women who received a sanction for violating campus alcohol policies participated in the study. The two hour group intervention focused on female-specific reasons for drinking and included decisional balance, goal setting and other exercises. Participants completed follow-up surveys for 12 weeks following the intervention and answered questions regarding alcohol consumption and alcohol-related negative consequences. Findings support the use of an MI-based intervention to reduce both alcohol consumption and consequences among adjudicated females. Specifically, alcohol use was reduced by 29.9% and negative consequences were reduced by 35.87% from pre-intervention to 3-month follow up. Further, the intervention appeared to successfully initiate change in the heaviest drinkers, as women who drank at risky levels reduced alcohol consumption to a greater extent than women who drank at moderate levels.
adjudicated college students; motivational interviewing; female; college drinking
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among college students and has the potential for various negative outcomes. Perceptions of what constitutes typical approval/acceptability of a reference group (i.e. injunctive social norms) have been shown to have strong utility as predictors of health-risk behaviors in the college context, yet this construct remains significantly understudied for marijuana use despite its potential for use in social norms-based interventions. The current research evaluated individuals’ marijuana approval level and their perceptions of others’ marijuana approval level (i.e. injunctive norms) for various reference groups (typical student on campus, one’s close friends, one’s parents) as a function of individual user status (abstainers, experimenters, occasional users, regular users). A diverse sample of 3553 college students from two universities completed an online survey. Among all user status groups, individual approval yielded mean scores paralleling that of perceived close friends’ approval and all groups were relatively uniform in their perception of typical students’ approval. Higher levels of marijuana use tended to produce higher endorsements of individual approval, perceived close friends’ approval, and perceived parental approval. Among occasional and regular users, there were no differences between one’s own approval level for use and the perceptions of close friends’ approval, nor did they think the typical student was more approving than themselves. Abstainers and experimenters, however, perceived typical students and close friends to have more permissive attitudes than themselves. Implications and future directions for research regarding the role of injunctive marijuana use norms in the development of social norms intervention are discussed.
Marijuana use; injunctive norms; reference group; social norms intervention
This study compares the natural drinking patterns of family history positive and family history negative women during their first semester of college, a transitional period known to coincide with considerable alcohol-related risks.
Seventy-two incoming undergraduate females, approximately half of whom reported a family history of alcohol misuse, completed initial questionnaires as well as Timeline Followback assessments. In addition, participants completed five successive weeks of online behavioral diaries measuring three categories of prospective alcohol consumption: total drinks, maximum drinks, and heavy episodic drinking events. Repeated measures ANCOVA models, controlling for prior alcohol consumption, examined participants’ drinking behavior.
Over the course of the five assessed weeks, first semester females with a genetic predisposition to alcohol problems were found to consume significantly more total drinks (p < .05), maximum drinks (p < .05), and were more likely to drink heavily (p < .05) than family history negative peers.
Findings highlight increased alcohol-related risks faced by incoming first-year college females with a reported family history of problematic drinking and, thus, emphasize the need for early interventions targeted toward this at-risk group.
This study examined whether a self-reported family history of alcohol abuse (FH+) moderated the effects of a female-specific group motivational enhancement intervention with first-year college women. First-year college women (N= 287) completed an initial questionnaire and attended an intervention (n=161) or control (n=126) group session, of which 118 reported FH+. Repeated measures ANCOVA models were estimated to investigate whether the effectiveness of the intervention varied as a function of one’s reported family history of alcohol abuse. Results revealed that family history of alcohol abuse moderated intervention efficacy. Although the intervention was effective in producing less risky drinking relative to controls, among those participants who received the intervention, FH+ women drank less across five weeks of follow-up than FH− women. The current findings provide preliminary support for the differential effectiveness of motivational enhancement interventions with FH+ women. Keywords: college women, intervention, alcohol abuse, family history, motivational interviewing
Research on adolescents focuses increasingly on features of the family in predicting and preventing substance use. Multivariate analyses of data from the National Survey of Parents and Youth (N = 4,173) revealed numerous significant differences on risk variables associated with family structure on adolescent drug-related perceptions and illicit substance use. Youth from dual-parent households were least likely to use drugs and were monitored more closely than single-parent youth (p < .001). A path analytic model estimated to illuminate linkages among theoretically implicated variables revealed that family income and child’s gender (p < .001), along with family structure (p < .05), affected parental monitoring, but not parental warmth. Monitoring and warmth, in turn, predicted adolescents’ social and interpersonal perceptions of drug use (p < .001), and both variables anticipated adolescents’ actual drug use one year later (p < .001). Results reconfirm the importance of parental monitoring and warmth and demonstrate the link between these variables, adolescents’ social and intrapersonal beliefs, and their use of illicit substances.
marijuana; smoking; drugs; alcoholic beverages; family structure
Studies examining family history of alcohol abuse among college students are not only conflicting, but have suffered various limitations. The current report investigates family history of alcohol abuse (FH+) and its relationship with alcohol expectancies, consumption, and consequences. In the current study, 3753 student participants (35% FH+), completed online assessments. Compared to FH−same-sex peers, FH+ males and FH+ females endorsed greater overall positive expectancies, consumed more drinks per week, and experienced more alcohol-related negative consequences. Further, FH+ females evaluated the negative effects of alcohol to be substantially worse than FH− females. An ANCOVA, controlling for age, GPA, race, and alcohol expectancies, resulted in family history main effects on both drinking and consequences. An interaction also emerged between gender and family history, such that FH+ males were especially vulnerable to high levels of alcohol consumption. Results reveal the scope of FH+ individuals in the college environment and the increased risk for these students, particularly male FH+ students, suggesting a need for researchers and college health personnel to focus attention and resources on this issue.
family history; alcohol use; college students; gender differences; alcohol expectancies; consequences
Despite research indicating that effective parenting plays an important protective role in adolescent risk behaviors, few studies have applied theory to examine this link with marijuana use, especially with national data. In the current study (N=2,141), we hypothesized that parental knowledge (of adolescent activities and whereabouts) and parental warmth are antecedents of adolescents’ marijuana beliefs—attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control—as posited by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB; Ajzen 1991). These three types of beliefs were hypothesized to predict marijuana intention, which in turn was hypothesized to predict marijuana consumption. Results of confirmatory factor analyses corroborated the psychometric properties of the two-factor parenting structure as well as the five-factor structure of the TPB. Further, the proposed integrative predictive framework, estimated with a latent structural equation model, was largely supported. Parental knowledge inversely predicted pro-marijuana attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control; parental warmth inversely predicted pro-marijuana attitudes and subjective norms, ps<.001. Marijuana intention (p<.001), but not perceived behavioral control, predicted marijuana use 1 year later. In households with high parental knowledge, parental warmth also was perceived to be high (r=.54, p<.001). Owing to the analysis of nationally representative data, results are generalizable to the United States population of adolescents 12–18 years of age.
Parental knowledge; Parental warmth; Theory of planned behavior; Marijuana; Adolescents
Greek-affiliated college students have been found to drink more heavily and frequently than other students. With female student drinking on the rise over the past decade, sorority women may be at particular risk for heavy consumption patterns. The current study is the first to apply the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to examine drinking patterns among a sorority-only sample. Two-hundred and forty-seven sorority members completed questionnaires measuring TPB variables of attitudes, norms, perceived behavioral control, and intentions, with drinking behaviors measured one month later. Latent structural equation modeling examined the pathways of the TPB model. Intentions to drink mediated the relationship between attitudes and norms on drinking behavior. Subjective norms predicted intentions to drink more than attitudes or perceived behavioral control. Perceived behavioral control did not predict intentions but did predict drinking behaviors. Interpretation and suggestions from these findings are discussed.
Theory of Planned Behavior; sorority members; female students; college drinking; intentions
This study investigates an approach for reducing inhalant initiation among younger adolescents: altering Socio-Personal Expectations (SPEs), a term referring to perceived linkages between behavior and personally relevant social outcomes. The study focuses specifically on SPEs regarding outcomes associated with increased social status and popularity. An anti-inhalant message was embedded within a short anti-bullying education video. Young adolescents (N=893) were assigned randomly to receive a message focused on the physical or the social harms of inhalant use. The objectives of this study were to test: (1) the malleability of SPEs, (2) SPEs’ predictive validity for future inhalant use, and (3) whether being exposed to a socio-personal threat, rather than a physical threat, led to different variables affecting drug-relevant decision-making processes. Analysis of variance suggested the malleability of SPEs (p<.001). Multiple regression analysis revealed that SPEs were predictive of future inhalant use. SPEs accounted for a significant portion of variance in future intentions over and above demographic variables, prior use, psychosocial variables, and perceived physical harm (R2=.26, p<.01). Moreover, being exposed to a social, rather than a physical threat, message resulted in different variables being predictive of future intentions to use inhalants.
Inhalants; Prevention; Expectations; Health campaign; Health behavior; Socio-personal expectations