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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




College freshmen-Alcohol use, College freshmen-Psychology, Drinking of alcoholic beverages-Psychological aspects, Alcohol, College, Drinking motives, Alcohol expectancies, College transition, College freshmen


A student’s transition from high school to college has been characterized as an especially vulnerable period in which incoming freshmen are more susceptible to increased experimentation with risky drinking and/or continued involvement with problematic alcohol use. Students’ involvement with risky drinking can include participation in specific drinking behaviors, such as binge drinking, drinking games, and pregaming (i.e., drinking before going out). Given the health risks inherent in these activities, research has sought to identify cognitive factors that are associated with increased participation in these behaviors, including alcohol expectancies (i.e., beliefs about the effects of alcohol) and drinking motives. However, the majority of these studies have used cross-sectional study designs or have not focused specifically on transitioning college students, which comprise an especially vulnerable population. Therefore, the present study investigated whether involvement in these behaviors increased prior to and during the college transition, as well as the ways in which alcohol expectancies and drinking motives predicted freshmen’s involvement in these behaviors across the same time period. Participants were surveyed at the beginning of freshman year (baseline), six months later (Time 1), and twelve months later (Time 2), and all questions referred to their drinking behaviors during the three months prior to each assessment. Findings indicate that the mean frequency of involvement in these behaviors increased, albeit modestly, across each time point. In addition, enhancement motives as assessed at the beginning of the freshman year predicted participation in binge drinking and pregaming at all three time points, even while controlling for demographic variables, typical alcohol consumption, and baseline participation in each respective behavior. Implications for intervention and prevention are discussed.




53 pages : illustrations. Honors project, Smith College, 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 35-45)