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“Mixed” Drinking Motivations: A Comparison of Majority, Multiracial, and Minority College Students

While alcohol use and drinking motivations is well studied, specific motives and drinking in minority groups is not well understood. The current study was a two part study that first looks at latent factors and underlying motives in White, Multiracial, Native American, Latino, Asian, and Black students. The second part of the study examined how social belonging impacts drinking among the diverse sample of undergraduate students.

Data for this study was taken from a web-based alcohol-prevention program called AlcoholEdu for College. In total, 410,079 first-year undergraduate students were included with 252,356 White, 34,574 Multiracial, 2,402 Native American, 33,648 Hispanic, 44,646 Asian, and 36,056 Black students. The first part of the study analyzed student’s responses to drinking motives and alcohol use frequency and quantity. The second part of the study included 520 participants who completed an online survey about drinking motivations, general belongingness, need to belong, sense of social fit, and rejection sensitivity.

The results showed that White, Multiracial, Native American, and Latino students had the highest levels of drinking and White, Multiracial, and Asian students endorsed motives relating to positive social awards. Asian students reported an important motive being regulating negative effect. Asian, Native Americans, Black, Latino students reported a significant motive for abstaining being internal past. The second part of the study found that motives were related to one’s need to belong and that the motive to celebrate was found to be related to feelings of general acceptance and social fit. Native American, Latino, and Black students had the most significant endorsement of abstaining motives. These findings are important when to college students and realizing different groups of students may have different motives for participating or abstaining from problematic drinking.

Take Away: This two part study looks at latent factors and underlying drinking motives in different racial groups of undergraduate college students. Data was taken from a web-based alcohol-prevention program called AlcoholEdu for College with 410,079 first-year undergraduate students being included. The researchers analyzed student’s responses to drinking motives and alcohol use frequency and quantity. They found that White, Multiracial, Native American, and Latinos students had the highest reported problematic alcohol use. They also found that Native American, Latino, and Black students had the most significant endorsement of abstaining. These findings are important when providing programs to college students and realizing different groups of students may have different motives for participating or abstaining from problematic drinking.

Straka, B. C., Gaither, S. E., Acheson, S. K., & Swartzwelder, H. S. (2019). “Mixed” Drinking Motivations: A Comparison of Majority, Multiracial, and Minority College Students. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 194855061988329. doi: 10.1177/1948550619883294

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