Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Statistical and Data Sciences: Faculty Publications




Personalized normative feedback is a recommended component of alcohol interventions targeting college students. However, normative data are commonly collected through campus-based surveys, not through actual participant-referent relationships. In the present investigation, we examined how misperceptions of residence hall peers, both overall using a global question and those designated as important peers using person-specific questions, were related to students’ personal drinking behaviors. Participants were 108 students (88% freshman, 54% White, 51% female) residing in a single campus residence hall. Participants completed an online baseline survey in which they reported their own alcohol use and perceptions of peer alcohol use using both an individual peer network measure and a global peer perception measure of their residential peers. We employed network autocorrelation models, which account for the inherent correlation between observations, to test hypotheses. Overall, participants accurately perceived the drinking of nominated friends but overestimated the drinking of residential peers. Consistent with hypotheses, overestimating nominated friend and global residential peer drinking predicted higher personal drinking, although perception of nominated peers was a stronger predictor. Interaction analyses showed that the relationship between global misperception and participant self-reported drinking was significant for heavy drinkers, but not non-heavy drinkers. The current findings explicate how student perceptions of peer drinking within an established social network influence drinking behaviors, which may be used to enhance the effectiveness of normative feedback interventions.


Peer reviewed accepted manuscript.

HHS Public Access

First Page


Last Page


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



© the authors



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.