A prospective investigation of relations between social influences and alcohol involvement during the transition into college
Journal of Studies on Alcohol
The present study used structural equation modeling to test whether prospective relations between prematriculation social influences and alcohol involvement in college were most consistent with peer selection, peer socialization or reciprocal determinism explanations and to determine if observed relations varied according to measurement interval. We tested the hypotheses that "active" (alcohol offers) and "passive" (social modeling, perceived norms) social influences would be uniquely and
... uniquely and reciprocally associated with alcohol use and alcohol-related consequences across two and three waves of assessment. Prospective undergraduates (N = 388) completed self-report assessments in the summer before matriculation (Wave 1), in the spring of their freshman year (Wave 2) and in the spring of their sophomore year (Wave 3). Reciprocal effects were observed between social influences and alcohol use in both two- and three-wave models. Some evidence was observed for reciprocal associations for social modeling with alcohol use and alcohol problems. Overall, however, only modest support was found for a reciprocal influence conceptualization of social influences in alcohol problems. For alcohol problems, the results were more consistent with selection effects. No significant reciprocal associations were observed for perceived norms. Findings generally support the Social Learning Theory concept of reciprocal determinism but suggest the relationship between individual drinking behaviors and the social environment varies when distinguishing between alcohol use and alcohol problems. These findings also point to the importance of distinguishing among different types of social influences when delineating processes that result from and lead to heavy drinking in college.