College students' perceptions of class year-specific drinking norms.Addict Behav. 2010 Mar; 35(3):290-3.AB
The current study documents and examines college students' perceptions of the drinking behavior of peers from varying class years (i.e., freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior). A sample of 522 college students estimated the drinking behavior of peers within their own specific class year, as well as across the three other class years. Participants in each class year overestimated the drinking of students in their own class year as well as the drinking of students in the three other class years. These within class year-specific perceived norms associated with drinking for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Poisson regression analyses revealed freshmen and juniors were more impacted by their class year-specific perceived norms than students in other class years, while students in other class years were more impacted by sophomore-specific perceived norms than sophomores. These findings suggest that perceptions of class year-specific drinking norms can be impactful on individual drinking rates within one's own class year; however, perceived drinking norms of other class years may also associate with actual drinking for students. Future research is needed to establish the longitudinal development of class year-specific perceived norms and to explore the impact of providing students with actual drinking norms of students in their own class years and of students in other class years during interventions and prevention programs.