Examining the relationships between acculturation orientations, perceived and actual norms, and drinking behaviors of short-term american sojourners in foreign environments.Prev Sci. 2011 Dec; 12(4):401-10.PS
As little research has examined factors influencing increased and heavy drinking behavior among American sojourners abroad, this study was designed to examine how acculturation orientations (i.e., separation versus assimilation), host country per capita drinking rates, and perceptions about the drinking behavior among other sojourners and natives in the host country predicted alcohol risk abroad. A sample of 216 American college students completing study abroad programs completed a pre-abroad questionnaire to document their pre-abroad drinking levels, followed by a post-return questionnaire to assess drinking while abroad, acculturation orientations and perceived norms of drinking behavior within the foreign environment. A dichotomous variable was created to compare United States (U.S.) per capita drinking rates with those of the host country. Hierarchical repeated-measures ANOVAs examined the changes in drinking from pre-abroad to abroad levels. Participants studying in countries with higher drinking rates than the U.S. and those with higher perceptions about the drinking behavior in the country increased their drinking to a greater extent. Those with higher separation acculturation orientations and greater perceptions drank at heavier levels while abroad. Participants with a greater assimilation orientation and higher perceptions about native drinking, as well as those with a greater separation orientation and higher perceptions about other students' alcohol use drank the heaviest while abroad. These findings have implications for future preventive work with American students and other sojourning groups to promote pre-abroad knowledge of more accurate drinking norms and greater engagement in the culture to potentially prevent increased and heavier drinking.