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The influence of peer and parental norms on first-generation college students’ binge drinking trajectories

Research shows that alcohol is the most common substance used among college students and binge drinking causes concerns for more negative consequences among this group of young adults. The current study focuses on looking at binge drinking trajectories for first-generation college students. First-generation college students may have less guidance about alcohol norms on college campuses along with more pressure from their family on succeeding. They hypothesis was that family pressure may affect student’s alcohol use.

First year students at a university were invited to complete surveys during Fall 2016, Spring 2017, and Fall 2017. These surveys asked about demographics, first-generation college student status, and alcohol consumption. They also evaluated descriptive norms by asking about peer drinking. Finally, they evaluated injunctive norms by asking about peer and parent approval or disapprove of binge drinking. In total there were 1,117 continuing-generation students and 225 first-generation students. Overall, binge drinking declined over the course of the 3 data collection time points.

The results showed first-generation students had less instances of binge drinking throughout the time points. Substance-free dormitory residence also provided protection against binge drinking. For both groups, parental injunctive norms had a positive association with binge drinking frequency, but it was stronger in the first generation student group. The same association was seen for peer descriptive norms. The association between descriptive binge drinking norms and binge drinking frequency was seen for both groups but was stronger for continuing-generation students. The positive association between peer injunctive norms and binge drinking was the same for both groups. The data from this study shows that first-generation student status may provide protection against dangerous binge drinking in first year college students and is an important factor to consider when providing education and interventions to first year college students.

Take Away: The current study looked at binge drinking trajectories in first-generation students versus continuing-generation students. They sent surveys to first year students at a university during three time points with 1,342 respondents. The results showed first-generation students had less instances of binge drinking. For both groups, parental injunctive norms and descriptive binge drinking norms had a positive association with binge drinking frequency, but it was stronger in the first generation student group for both variables. The data from this study shows that first-generation student status may provide protection against dangerous binge drinking in first year college students.

Diguiseppi, G. T., Davis, J. P., Meisel, M. K., Clark, M. A., Roberson, M. L., Ott, M. Q., & Barnett, N. P. (2020). The influence of peer and parental norms on first-generation college students’ binge drinking trajectories. Addictive Behaviors, 103, 106227. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106227

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