ERIC Number: ED357298
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Nov
Biases in the Perception of Normative Alcohol Use over Time: Perceived Norms Predict Future Drinking.
Baer, John S.; And Others
Perceived norms are important mediators of social behavior. Social perception, however, is often biased or inaccurate. Recent research has shown that college students overestimate normative drinking rates. This study examined whether this trend continues over time and if students' perceptions of normative drinking are predictive of personal drinking at later points in time. Students (N=159) were given a battery of questionnaires dealing with alcohol use and perceptions of norms at four assessment points over 18 months. Students were assessed in the spring of their senior year in high school, fall of their freshman year in college, spring of their freshman year, and fall of their sophomore year. Results indicated that perceptions of norms decrease overtime while drinking rates increase. Given that perceived norms begin much higher than self-reported drinking rates, biases are thus reduced over time. Nevertheless, perceived norms remain significantly higher than self-reported drinking, and higher than actual norms for the population. Perceptions of norms are significantly predictive of drinking rates at the following assessment, even when prior drinking rates are statistically controlled. Alcohol prevention programming which clarifies and challenges norms may contribute towards reducing risks associated with heavy drinking. (Author/ABL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (DHHS), Rockville, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy (26th, Boston, MA, November 19-22, 1992).