Article - post-print
The social norms approach to college drinking suggests that students misperceive the drinking behavior and attitudes of their peers. While much is known about these misperceptions, research is sparse regarding the context in which perceived and actual norms are assessed. As social influence is pronounced in college, the principles of Social Impact Theory may contribute to differences between assessments performed individually and those completed when surrounded by members of one’s salient reference group. The current study examines 284 members of campus organizations in two contexts (online and group) to determine if individuals endorse different responses to questions of perceived and actual drinking norms across contexts. All participants endorsed higher responses on questions of actual and perceived group behavior and of perceived group attitudes towards drinking during the group assessment. Men and students in Greek organizations may be more influenced by the proximity of their peers when presented with questions regarding perceived alcohol use. These results suggest that context of assessment needs to be considered when collecting self-report data from college students.
This is an author-manuscript of an article accepted for publication in Addictive Behaviors following peer review. The version of record: Pedersen, E. R., LaBrie, J. W., & Lac, A. (2008). Assessment of perceived and actual alcohol norms in varying contexts: Exploring Social Impact Theory among college students. Addictive Behaviors, 33(4), 552–564 is available online at: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2007.11.003.
Pedersen, E. R., LaBrie, J. W., & Lac, A. (2008). Assessment of perceived and actual alcohol norms in varying contexts: Exploring Social Impact Theory among college students. Addictive Behaviors, 33(4), 552–564. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2007.11.003