Resistance to peer influence moderates the relationship between perceived (but not actual) peer norms and binge drinking in a college student social network

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Health Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction


INTRODUCTION: Adolescent and young adult binge drinking is strongly associated with perceived social norms and the drinking behavior that occurs within peer networks. The extent to which an individual is influenced by the behavior of others may depend upon that individual's resistance to peer influence (RPI).

METHODS: Students in their first semester of college (N=1323; 54.7% female, 57% White, 15.1% Hispanic) reported on their own binge drinking, and the perceived binge drinking of up to 10 important peers in the first-year class. Using network autocorrelation models, we investigated cross-sectional relationships between participant's binge drinking frequency and the perceived and actual binge drinking frequency of important peers. We then tested the moderating role of RPI, expecting that greater RPI would weaken the relationship between perceived and actual peer binge drinking on participant binge drinking.

RESULTS: Perceived and actual peer binge drinking were statistically significant predictors of participant binge drinking frequency in the past month, after controlling for covariates. RPI significantly moderated the association between perceptions of peer binge drinking and participant's own binge drinking; this association was weaker among participants with higher RPI compared to those with lower RPI. RPI did not interact with the actual binge drinking behavior of network peers.

CONCLUSIONS: RPI may function to protect individuals from the effect of their perceptions about the binge drinking of peers, but not from the effect of the actual binge drinking of peers.


Alcohol, Binge drinking, College, Resistance to peer influence, Social norms

DOI of Published Version



Addict Behav. 2018 May;80:47-52. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.12.020. Epub 2017 Dec 20. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Addictive behaviors

PubMed ID


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Link to Article in PubMed