The Relationship Between Exposure to Alcohol-Related Content on Facebook and Predictors of Alcohol Consumption Among Female Emerging Adults Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Consuming an unhealthy level of alcohol is a significant problem for some young women. Potential determinants of excess consumption include perceptions of usual consumption among peers-perceptions of what is "normal." The present study examined whether perceptions of social normative endorsement of drinking, operationalized by measures of perceived alcohol consumption of close friends (proximal norms), the consumption of the "average student" (distal norms), and the extent of alcohol-related content posted by peers on Facebook were related to alcohol-related attitudes and self-reported consumption. Female university students (n=129; Mage=21.48 years, SD=3.00) completed an online questionnaire assessing Facebook use, perceived alcohol-related norms, and self-reported alcohol attitudes and consumption. Perceptions of the consumption of the average female student were a negative predictor of attitudes. Positive alcohol attitudes, extent of own alcohol-related photographic posts on Facebook, average female student alcohol consumption, and report of male close friend consumption predicted self-report of own alcohol consumption. Interestingly, female close friend norms failed to predict consumption, whereas male close friend norms predicted consumption but not attitudes, suggesting the possibility of separate cognitive pathways for alcohol-related attitudes and behavior. This study builds on existing research by casting new light on predictors of alcohol-related attitudes, as well as describing the potential role of social networking sites such as Facebook in the formation of social norms and the modulation of drinking behavior.

authors

publication date

  • 2014