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Published on December 28, 2007

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Are social norms the best predictor of outcomes among heavy drinking college students? :  Are social norms the best predictor of outcomes among heavy drinking college students? Clayton Neighbors, Ph.D. Associate Professor Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Center for the Study Health and Risk Behaviors University of Washington This research was supported by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Grant R01AA014576 Neighbors, C., Lee, C. M., Lewis, M. A., Fossos, N., & Larimer, M. E. (2007). Are social norms the best predictor of outcomes among heavy drinking college students? Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 68, 556-565. College Student Drinking:  College Student Drinking 80% of US college students drink. 40% engage in heavy episodic drinking (5/4 drinks for men/women on at least one occasion in the previous 2 weeks). Consequences include: c. 1700 alcohol-related deaths per year 500,000 alcohol-related injuries Criminal behavior Academic problems Unwanted sexual activity Hangovers, fights, embarrassment, etc. Hingson et al., 2002, 2005; Johnson et al, 2000, 2005; Wechsler et al., 2002 Predictors of Drinking:  Predictors of Drinking Social influences/Perceived norms are among the strongest and most consistent predictors of heavy drinking among college students (Borsari & Carey, 2003; Perkins, 2002; Wood et al., 2001). Really? What about sex? What about Greek status? What about drinking motives? What about drinking expectancies? What about problems? Who cares? Social Norms:  Social Norms Descriptive norms: Perception of others’ behavior. Typically operationalized as perception of typical students drinking. Injunctive Norms: Perceptions of others’ approval. Typically operationalized as perceived approval of close others (e.g., friends and parents) Demographics:  Demographics Sex: Men drink more than women. Differences have been relatively stable among college students over the past 25 years (Johnston, O’Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2005). Men also report more problems than women, although the problems tend to be more public (Perkins, 2002). Greek membership: Greek students drink more and experience more problems than non-Greek students (Borsari and Carey, 1999; Cashin et al., 1998; Kahler et al., 2003; Larimer et al., 2000; Lo & Globetti, 1995; Meilman et al., 1999) . The difference between Fraternity and non-Fraternity men is larger than the difference between Sorority and non-Sorority women (Larimer et al. 2000; 2004). Research suggests that both selection and socialization effects contribute to heavier drinking by Greek affiliated students (Baer, Kivlahan, & Marlatt, 1995; Read, Wood, Davidoff, McLacken, & Campbell, 2002; Sher, Bartholow, & Nanda, 2001; Kahler et al., 2003; McCabe et al., 2005). Drinking Motives (Cooper, 1994) :  Drinking Motives (Cooper, 1994) Types of drinking motives Social: “because it helps you enjoy a party” Enhancement: “because you like the feeling” Conformity: “so you won’t feel left out” Coping: “to forget about your problems” Associated with drinking and problems. Social/enhancement are often combined. Coping has been more strongly linked to problems. Associated with different drinking contexts and patterns. Conformity is the weak link. (Carey & Correia, 1997; Cooper, 1994; Cooper et al., 1995; Hussong, 2003; Martens et al., 2003; MacLean & Lecci, 2000; Mccabe, 2002; Mohr et al., 2005; Neighbors et al., 2004; Park & Levenson, 2002; Read et al., 2003; Stewart and Devine, 2000; Wild & Cunningham, 2001; Wood et al., 1992). Expectancies (Fromme, Stroot, & Kaplan, 1993) :  Expectancies (Fromme, Stroot, & Kaplan, 1993) Positive expectancies: “I would be outgoing” Evaluation of positive effects: “ Being outgoing is...” Negative expectancies: “I would neglect my obligations” Evaluation of negative effects: “Neglecting my obligations is...” Complex literature. Diversity of assessment methods. Associated with drinking and problems. Positive expectancies more strongly associated with drinking. (Burden & Maisto, 2000; DelBoca et al., 2002; Darkes et al., 2004; Fromme, Stroot, & Kaplan, 1993; Jones et al., 2001; Leigh & Stacy, 2004; McNally & Palfai; 2001; Neighbors et al., 2003; Palfai & Ostafin, 2003; Read et al., 2003, 2004; Sher et al., 1996; Wiers et al., 2002; Wood et al., 2001). Method:  Method Baseline participants for a 5-year indicated prevention trial utilizing web-based normative feedback Social Norms and Alcohol Prevention (SNAP) R01AA014576 Participants 818 (57.6% women) first-year undergraduate students enrolled at a large west coast university. Mean age of participants was 18.14 (SD = .46). Ethnicity: 65.2% white, 24.3% Asian, 10.5% other Procedures All assessments were web-based. 20 minute screening survey assessed eligibility for the intervention study. Inclusion criteria was reporting consuming 4/5 drinks for women/men on one occasion during the previous month. Eligible students were invited to complete a 45 minute baseline assessment immediately following screening. Measures:  Measures Alcohol consumption: Typical number of drinks per week over the past three months from the Daily Drinking Questionnaire (Collins et al., 1985) Alcohol related consequences: Rutgers Alcohol Problems Index (RAPI; White & Labouvie, 1989) Social Norms: Descriptive Norm: Perceived number of drinks per week consumed by the typical student on campus. Drinking Norms Rating Form (Baer et. al., 1991) Injunctive Norms (Friends): How would your friends respond if they knew: (1) you drank alcohol every weekend, (2) you drank alcohol daily, (3) you drove a car after drinking, and (4) you drank enough alcohol to pass out” (Baer, 1994). Injunctive Norms (Parents): How would your parents respond if they knew: (1) you drank alcohol every weekend, (2) you drank alcohol daily, (3) you drove a car after drinking, and (4) you drank enough alcohol to pass out” (Baer, 1994). Drinking Motives: Social Motives, Coping Motives, Enhancement Motives, Conformity Motives (Cooper, 1994). Expectancies: Positive Expectancies, Subjective Evaluation of Positive Effects, Negative Expectancies, Subjective Evaluation of Negative Effects (Fromme et al., 1993). Primary Analyses:  Primary Analyses Alcohol Consumption Simultaneous regression evaluating unique contribution of all predictors. Stepwise regression to evaluate the strongest predictors of alcohol consumption in decreasing order. At each step, the best unique predictor is added until no additional predictors account for a significant unique proportion of variance. Alcohol Related Consequences Simultaneous regression evaluating unique contribution of all predictors. Stepwise regression to evaluate the strongest predictors of alcohol consumption in decreasing order. Consumption as a mediator of the relationship between predictors and consequences. Mediation evident for predictors that are 1) associated with consumption, 2) associated with problems, and 3) no longer significantly associated with problems when controlling for consumption. Hierarchical regression. Step 1 = alcohol consumption. Step 2 = all predictors. Correlations:  Correlations Note. *p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001 Simultaneous Regression: DV = Drinks Per Week:  Simultaneous Regression: DV = Drinks Per Week Note. *p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001. R2 = .37. Stepwise Regression: DV = Drinks Per Week:  Stepwise Regression: DV = Drinks Per Week Note. *p < .05; ***p < .001. Simultaneous Regression: DV = Alcohol Related Consequences:  Simultaneous Regression: DV = Alcohol Related Consequences Note. *p < .05; **p<.01; ***p < .001. R2 = .24. Stepwise Regression: DV = Alcohol Related Consequences:  Stepwise Regression: DV = Alcohol Related Consequences Note. *p < .05; **p<.01; ***p < .001. Hierarchical Regression: DV = Alcohol Related Consequences:  Hierarchical Regression: DV = Alcohol Related Consequences Note. *p < .05; **p<.01; ***p < .001. Discussion:  Discussion Among heavy drinking students social norms are the best predictors of alcohol consumption. Problems are most strongly associated with affect regulation (coping, negative expectancies). Alcohol consumption mediates the relationship between most predictors and alcohol problems. Coping and negative expectancies are independently related to problems. Discussion:  Discussion Limitations Restricted sample—only those who reported at least one heavy episode in the previous month. Entering first year students. Cross-sectional – self report. Disconnection in reference groups between descriptive and injunctive norms. Assessment of problems (RAPI). Social influence versus affect regulation Consumption versus problems Intervention implications Your thoughts?:  Your thoughts? Correlations:  Correlations

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