Perceptions Of Alcohol Use Affect Drinking Habits Among College Students – Science Trends

The current study advances our understanding of the impact of one’s personal attitudes (evaluative judgments of various aspects of a person’s life and experience) on drinking behavior in several ways. Importantly, attitudes are a key element of many health behavior models and the current study is the first to show the importance of assessing distinct attitudes concerning alcohol use.

Specifically, the results showed that an individual’s favorable personal attitude of heavy alcohol use (drinking 4+/5+ drinks for women/men in one sitting) was significantly associated with greater amounts of alcohol use, binge drinking, and the experience of alcohol-related problems over a month. Conversely, an individual’s favorable attitude of moderate alcohol use (drinking less than 4/5 drinks for woman/men in one sitting) was significantly associated with lower amounts of alcohol use, binge drinking, and alcohol-related problems experienced over a month.

Furthermore, when compared with one of the most well-known predictors of alcohol use, perceptions of other people’s drinking behavior (i.e., descriptive and injunctive norms), one’s favorable attitude toward heavy drinking emerged as having the strongest association with of drinks per week, binge frequency, and alcohol-related problems.

Why are these findings significant?

These findings are significant as they represent an important step forward in documenting personally-relevant cognitive factors that are associated with college student alcohol use. Briefly, college is a time when late adolescents explore their relationship with alcohol and other drugs, and campuses deal with the effects of this youthful exploration.

Although more than half of students attending college are under the minimum legal drinking age of 21 (American College Health Association, 2012), 81% report lifetime alcohol use  (Johnston, O’Malley, Bachman, Schulenberg, & Miech, 2016). Furthermore, over 1/3 of college students report heavy episodic drinking (4+/5+ drinks in a single sitting for females/males) at least once in the

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