How influential is peer pressure? If you have lived longer than 12 years, I am, sure you have experienced it on some level. If you have made it to adulthood and have children that age you know that peer pressure can be extreme.
Perceptions of peer drinking of alcohol may be the strongest predictor of excessive alcohol use among college students according to new research at the University of Houston (UH).
The five-year study involves 2,000 UH students and three universities, including UH as the primary site of the research study, Loyola Marymount University and the University of Washington.
College students drink more alcohol than any other segment in the population, leading at times to negative consequences from missing class, risky sexual behavior, depression, driving under the influence, trouble with authorities, injuries and even fatalities. Previous research studies that students overestimate drinking by their peers, and that influences their own drinking. If you can change those perceptions, you can change their drinking.
The research study starts in January 2012 and will collect campus-wide norms of drinking behavior by screening 2,000 UH students. The students will be invited to participate in the study by e-mail and asked to take a brief computer-based survey to report their demographic characteristics, personality traits and typical drinking behavior, and related experiences. Students who meet the criteria for the study will be asked back to participate in a longer battery of questions. Information gathered from this survey will be used to develop personalized normative feedback (PNF), a brief individualized intervention whereby the students are given feedback in person regarding their own drinking, their perceptions of other students' drinking and other students' actual drinking.
Researchers believe that most students actually drink no more than three or four drinks per week. But most students think their peers are drinking much more than that and their own drinking is based in part on their exaggerated perceptions of their peers' drinking.
Students drink what they perceive to be a 'normal' amount, but most overestimate the actual "normal" amount. Students also overestimate how much their peers gamble. The extent to which you have these exaggerated perceptions, the more likely you are to engage in heavy behavioral problem drinking, gambling or whatever the behavior is, so that's an area we think about in terms of intervention.
This study is unique in that it builds on previous research studies and refines the measure of perceptions of drinking in college students to better understand what social and individual factors lead to their drinking. The overarching goal of the proposed research is to improve the understanding of why, for whom, and under what conditions personalized normative feedback is most
What do you think? Do you believe your peers and colleagues drink more than they actually do? As an adult my perception is I underestimate the amounts of booze they put in their systems.