Undergraduate Honours Theses
Previous research suggests that alcohol use and abuse is a growing problem for emerging adults (Lyons & Willott, 2008). Emerging adults typically attend social events with their natural drinking groups (Lange et al., 2006). Examining popularity level within the natural drinking group is critical for predicting heavy episodic drinking patterns. The objective of this study is to examine the association between group members’ peer-nominated popularity and heavy alcohol consumption and whether this association is heightened among individuals aware of their popular position. The present study provided 81 university students (Mage = 19.40 years; 69% female) recruited within their natural drinking groups (N = 21) with a longitudinal online survey. At two different time points 2 months apart, participants ranked their group members’ popularity, including their own. There were two main hypotheses. Firstly, peer-nominated popularity at Time 1 will predict increased heavy episodic drinking at Time 2 (while controlling for drinking at Time 1). Second, self-reported popularity will moderate the aforementioned relationship. Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) was used for data analysis, which found that self-perceived popularity at Time 1 was a predictor of alcohol consumption at Time 2. However, there were no significant results for peer-perceived popularity. Implications and future directions are discussed along with possible prevention measures for university guidance departments.