Article - post-print
Parents often look to other parents for guidance, but how accurate are their perceptions? Expanding on existing normative literature to include parents of college students, this study first sought to determine whether parents accurately estimated the attitudes of other parents concerning their college student's alcohol-related behaviors. The effect of these (mis)perceived injunctive norms on the alcohol-related attitudes and behaviors of the parents' own children was then examined.
Participants were 270 college student-parent dyadic pairs who completed independent online surveys. The student sample was 59% female; the parent sample was 78% female.
A structural equation model demonstrated that parents significantly overestimated other parents' approval of alcohol use by their respective child and, further, that these misperceptions strongly influenced parental attitudes toward their own child's drinking. Parental attitudes were sub-sequently found to be significantly associated with their child's attitudes toward drinking but were only marginally associated with the child's actual drinking, thereby underscoring the mediational effect of the child's attitudes.
This is the first study to document the influence of parental normative misperceptions regarding alcohol use by their college-age children, reinforcing the importance of parental attitudes on children's alcohol-related attitudes and behaviors in college. These findings support the need to complement student-based interventions with parent-based interventions aimed at increasing parental awareness and involvement. Further, the current findings indicate that normative interventions targeting parents offer a promising avenue by which to indirectly and positively influence college students' alcohol use.
This is an author-manuscript of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs following peer review. The version of record: LaBrie, J. W., Hummer, J. F., Lac, A., Ehret, P. J., & Kenney, S. R. (2011). Parents Know Best, But Are They Accurate? Parental Normative Misperceptions and Their Relationship to Students’ Alcohol-Related Outcomes. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 72(4), 521–529 is available online at: http://www.jsad.com/doi/full/10.15288/jsad.2011.72.521.
LaBrie, J. W., Hummer, J. F., Lac, A., Ehret, P. J., & Kenney, S. R. (2011). Parents Know Best, But Are They Accurate? Parental Normative Misperceptions and Their Relationship to Students’ Alcohol-Related Outcomes. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 72(4), 521–529.