Social norms positively predict college students' alcohol use, but it is critical to explore heterogeneity in these patterns to identify which students are most susceptible to normative influences. The current study explored the nature of drinking norms within college student peer sport clubs. We examined the association between self-reported alcohol use (i.e., number of drinks in a typical week) and perceived descriptive/injunctive norms as an indicator of norm adherence and then tested moderating effects of social constructs related to the group: Social identification with one's team, along with social networkderived indices of indegree centrality and network density. We sampled members of 35 intact college club sport teams at 3 timepoints across the school year (N = 1,054; 61% female). Multilevel modeling was employed to estimate moderating effects at within-person, between-person, and between-groups levels. Initial analyses revealed that perceived group norms predicted self-reported alcohol use, and that teams approached consensus on the groups' drinking norms over time. Several significant time-varying moderation patterns were uncovered. At timepoints when students identified more strongly with their team (relative to person-mean levels), they more readily adhered to perceived descriptive and injunctive team drinking norms. Students also adhered more closely to these perceived team drinking norms at timepoints when students were nominated as having relatively lower indegree centrality. Cross-level interactions revealed that neither network density nor team sex moderated these associations. Taken together, the current findings advance our understanding of group processes that may produce more salient social influences on students' alcohol use behaviors within proximal peer groups.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health