Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Cheryl Somers


Emerging adulthood is an important developmental stage for individuals ages 18-25 and can be categorized as a period of increased autonomy and identity exploration. It can also be a time in which there is increased exploration of risk taking behaviors, such as alcohol consumption. Current literature suggests that alcohol consumption is an increasing trend on college campuses, with more college students experiencing negative consequences such as alcohol related accidents, injury, and even death. The current study sought to examine the social (peer modeling, descriptive norms, injunctive norms, and parental monitoring) and cognitive (alcohol expectancies and drinking motives) factors that contribute to college drinking, in addition to examining whether gender differences existed among these variables. Participants for this study included 250 college students (108 males and 142 females), ranging in age from 18-25, enrolled at a large Midwestern university. The sample included various different ethnic groups, including African American (n=59, 23.6%), Caucasian (n=112, 44.8%), Asian/Pacific Islander (n=19, 7.6%), Hispanic (n=7, 2.8%), Middle Eastern (n=25, 10%), and Other (n=28, 11.2%). In regard to year in school the majority of the sample identified themselves as being either a Junior (n=70, 38%) or Senior (n=62, 24.8%), and most participants reported a GPA of 3.5 (n=89, 35.6%). Results from this study found that, for cognitive factors, the largest contributions to college drinking were alcohol expectancies (sociability subscale) and drinking motives (social subscale). When examining social factors, results found that the largest contributions were made by peer modeling, descriptive norms (best friend subscale) and injunctive norms (parents subscale). The combination of both factors explained a greater proportion of the variance than did either factor alone. Surprisingly, no gender differences were found among any of the variables studied.

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