Master of Arts (MA)
Problematic alcohol use in college is a major public health concern. Identification of variables related to development of alcohol-related problems is an important research goal. Social anxiety and perceived social norms are two such variables. Social anxiety is associated with concurrent experience of alcohol-related problems and development of future problems with alcohol. Perceived norms, especially norms related to perceived approval of risky alcohol use (i.e., injunctive norms), are related to greater drinking problems among college students with higher social anxiety. College students typically overestimate the amount that other students in general use alcohol, and the discrepancy between perceived and actual norms is related to problems with alcohol. However, discrepancies between perceived and actual norms have not been evaluated for proximal peer group alcohol quantity, frequency, alcohol-related problems, and approval of risky drinking. The current study sought to identify if such discrepancies existed by asking 56 undergraduate online survey respondents to complete measures of alcohol use, alcohol-related problems, and perceived norms, and to refer one close friend who would complete a battery of self-report measures of their own alcohol use and actual norms. Results supported that students overestimated their friends’ injunctive norms and alcohol problems, but not descriptive norms. Social anxiety was negatively correlated with drinking frequency and not significantly correlated with alcohol-related problems. Higher misperception of friends’ problems was related to greater alcohol use quantity and alcohol-related problems. Higher injunctive norms discrepancy was related to fewer drinking occasions. Results highlight the importance of considering proximal peer groups when investigating the role of perceived norms and drinking behaviors.
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Ecker, Anthony H., "Multi-informant investigation of college student drinking behaviors and social anxiety : the role of perceived descriptive and injunctive norms" (2013). LSU Master's Theses. 3347.