Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Health Psychology

Committee Director

Abby L. Braitman

Committee Member

James Henson

Committee Member

Miguel Padilla


Heavy drinking and alcohol-related problems are a growing concern for American college students (Jun, Agley, Huang, & Gassman, 2015). Social networks, or peer groups, have demonstrated predictive associations with college students’ alcohol outcomes (Neighbors, Lee, Lewis, Fossos, & Larimer, 2007). Protective behavioral strategies (PBS), defined as behaviors used to reduce negative alcohol-related consequences, are often assessed as a mechanism of change and predictor of alcohol outcomes (Martens, Taylor, Damann, Page, Mowry, & Cimini, 2004). Still, the association between social networks’ and college students’ own PBS use has yet to be explored. The current study was designed to address this gap in the literature to better understand the association between social network members’ drinking-related behaviors and college students’ alcohol use. Participants (n = 566) were undergraduates who completed the web-based survey for research credit in participating psychology classes. Students were asked about their alcohol use, PBS use, and beliefs about PBS, as well as the perceived alcohol use and PBS use of five members of their social networks. Results show that a larger proportion of social network members reported as heavy drinkers was a significant predictor of higher alcohol quantity, higher peak alcohol use, and more alcohol-related problems by participants. A larger proportion of social network members reported as light drinkers or abstainers was a significant predictor of more PBS use by participants. Additionally, a larger proportion of high PBS using social network members was a significant predictor of more PBS use and perceived importance of PBS by participants. Closeness (i.e., amount of time spent with the individual social network members) did not moderate any of these associations


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).