How College Students View Drinking May Affect How Much They Consume

By Beth Leipholtz 04/13/18

A new study examined college students' perception of alcohol consumption and how it impacts their drinking behavior.

person holding a red cup

For some college students, the perceptions they have shaped of drinking may affect how they drink themselves. 

According to Science Trends, a study published in Addictive Behaviors indicates that college students’ perception of alcohol use affects their own drinking habits. 

Researchers studied individuals' attitudes toward heavy consumption, moderate consumption, and toward other people's drinking behaviors.

The study found that a person’s “favorable personal attitude" of heavy alcohol use (four or more drinks in one sitting for women, five or more for men) was linked to binge drinking, alcohol-related problems in a month-long period, and greater alcohol use overall. 

On the other hand, a person’s “favorable attitude" of moderate alcohol use (less than four drinks in one sitting for women, less than five for men) is linked with a lower likelihood of binge drinking, alcohol-related issues in a one-month period and overall amount of alcohol use.

According to Science Trends, this study was made up of secondary data from a large-scale study that examined whether or not brief alcohol intervention was effective for college students who had violated campus alcohol use policies. Included in the study were 568 students from a public university, located in the northeastern part of the country.

These students were required to take part in an alcohol education program due to violating campus rules. 

The students watched a presentation and were given two options: pay a fee and take part in a short individualized alcohol intervention, or take part in this study, which included a short individualized alcohol intervention with a one-month follow-up for data collection. 

While half or more of students in a college setting are under the legal drinking age, 81% of them report “lifetime alcohol use.” More than 33% of college students report “heavy episodic drinking” at least one time in the past two weeks.  

“These findings are significant as they represent an important step forward in documenting personally-relevant cognitive factors that are associated with college student alcohol use,” Science Trends reports. “Briefly, college is a time when late adolescents explore their relationship with alcohol and other drugs, and campuses deal with the effects of this youthful exploration.”

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.