Psychology ETDs

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Heavy drinking among college students inhibits academic success and poses serious risks to others in the form of alcohol-related violence, sexual assaults, and automobile accidents (Hingson, 2010). Furthermore, data have indicated an increasing rate of heavy drinking among college students (Hingson, 2010; NIAAA, 2002; NIAAA, 2007). Research suggests that parents maintain ongoing influence on young adult alcohol use during the transition to college, even in the face of potentially negative influence from peers and perceived drinking norms. However, the variables used to demonstrate this have varied widely. This study aimed to develop a cohesive model of parent and peer influences on student drinking, and to elucidate the structural and functional components of social influence most relevant to young adult alcohol use. Participants were 792 university students responding to an online survey about their drinking behaviors, as well as behaviors of their parents and friends. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to assess the tenability of latent construct models of mom, dad, and friend behaviors related to student drinking. These behavioral indicators included drinking severity, encouragement of drinking, social support, contact, and relational conflict. When these variables failed to form cohesive and adequately fitting models across the three social groups (i.e., mom, dad, and friends), hierarchical regression analyses were used to further explore the associations between social network variables and college student drinking. Results indicated generally stronger associations between student drinking and friend behaviors, relative to parent behaviors. Nevertheless, parent behaviors demonstrated significant associations with student drinking; and often times the area of effect was one that was absent for peers (e.g., financial support). In other instances parents demonstrated an opposing effect to that of peers (e.g., support for drinking). Taken together, this suggests that parent behaviors maintain unique and ongoing relationships with their college students drinking behaviors, and remain worthy of consideration when it comes to prevention and treatment efforts.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

McCrady, Barbara

Second Committee Member

Tonigan, J. Scott

Third Committee Member

Smith, Bruce


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism




alcohol, college students, parents, family

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