Studies from Hobart and William Smith Colleges provide new data on addictive behavior

Posted on Saturday, November 03, 2007

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Obesity, Fitness and Wellness Week

Fresh data on addictive behavior are presented in the report "Misperceptions of peer drinking norms in Canada: another look at the 'reign of error' and its consequences among college students." According to a study from the United States, "Much research has documented extensive misperceptions of drinking norms and their negative effects in U.S. student populations. This study provides extensive research evidence documenting this phenomenon in Canadian higher education."

Data were collected in a 2003-2004 survey of students (N=5280) attending 11 institutions across Canada. Surveys were administered either to a random sample of students through the mail or to students attending a diverse selection of classes. Regardless of the actual drinking norm on each campus, students most commonly overestimated the alcohol consumption norms (both quantity and frequency levels) in every instance. Students' perception of their campus drinking norm was the strongest predictor of the amount of alcohol personally consumed in comparison with the influence of all demographic variables.

Perception of the norm was also a much stronger predictor of personal use than the actual campus norm for consumption on each campus or the actual norm for compliance with campus regulations. Among students who personally abstain or consume lightly, misperceptions of the student drinking norms contribute to alienation from campus life. The data presented here on Canadian students extends the evidence that peer drinking norms are grossly misperceived and that these misperceptions produce a highly detrimental 'reign of error' in the lives of college students," wrote H.Wesley Perkins and colleagues at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

The researchers concluded: "The data suggest that a broad range of students--abstainers and light drinkers as well as moderate and heavy drinkers--may benefit from implementing intervention strategies that can correct or reduce these misperceptions."

Perkins and colleagues published their study in >i>Addictive Behaviors (Misperceptions of peer drinking norms in Canada: another look at the "reign of error" and its consequences among college students. Addictive Behaviors, 2007;32(11):2645-56).

For more information, contact H.W. Perkins, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Geneva, New York 14456 USA.

Publisher contact information for the journal Addictive Behaviors is: Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd., the Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford OX5 1GB, England



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