Normative misperceptions of drinking among college students: a look at the specific contexts of prepartying and drinking games.J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2008 May; 69(3):406-11.JS
In the collegiate context, misperceptions of student drinking norms are among the most salient predictors of heavy drinking. Despite overall overestimations of peer alcohol use, misperceptions of context-specific behaviors have been infrequently studied. The present study examines students' perceptions of the high-risk behaviors of prepartying and drinking games and investigates the relationship between perceived and actual behaviors.
A sample of 524 college students completed an online assessment of actual and perceived alcohol use related to prepartying and drinking games. Quantity and frequency of overall drinking, prepartying, and drinking games were assessed for perceptions of all students at the university, as well as for male and female students separately. Questions also assessed participants' overall drinking, prepartying, and drinking game behaviors.
Participants significantly overestimated the prepartying and drinking game behaviors of all students, male students, and female students at their university. For men, perceptions of same-sex prepartying quantity and drinking game frequency and quantity were associated with actual behavior. For women, perceptions of both same-sex and other-sex prepartying quantity were associated with actual behavior.
These findings provide preliminary support for the association between context-specific perceived norms and actual prepartying and drinking game behaviors. Addressing these same-sex and opposite-sex norms during interventions may help students reduce their own engagement in these risky behaviors.