Despite a lot of advice to the contrary many college students continue to drink heavily and in a high-risk manner; something that can lead to physical, emotional, legal, academic and sexual problems. Most students greatly overestimate how much their peers drink and a lot of health promotion efforts have gone into correcting this misperception so that students do not feel obliged to keep up with their peers. This approach is said to be based on interpersonal factors. Other approaches focus on the students' perceptions about their own drinking behaviour and are said to be based on intrapersonal factors. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University studied 303 students asking them to complete questionnaires about their own drinking behaviour, their perception of other students' attitudes towards drinking, their perceptions of other students' drinking levels and their attitudes and perceptions about their own alcohol consumption. The study found that in terms of other people's drinking only the level of their closest friend's drinking significantly predicted alcohol consumption. However, three intrapersonal factors were linked to the students' levels of drinking: whether they had a favourable attitude towards drinking, whether they wanted to drink in order to get drunk and whether they thought they could drink a large amount without getting drunk. The authors of the study concluded that concentrating on these intrapersonal factors might be a more productive method of health promotion in the future.
Mallett, Kimberly A., Bachrach, Rachel L. and Turrisi, Rob - Examining the unique influence of interpersonal and intrapersonal drinking perceptions on alcohol consumption among college students Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs March 2009, 70(2), 178-185