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Behind the Headlines: Social norms and student alcohol consumption Jamie Agombar Ethical & Environmental Manager. Methodology. Challenging perceptions: Reality vs . media Online quantitative survey, based on Sheffield pilot Academic validation from National Social Norms Institute

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slide1

Behind the Headlines:

Social norms and student alcohol consumption

Jamie Agombar

Ethical & Environmental Manager

methodology
Methodology
  • Challenging perceptions: Reality vs. media
  • Online quantitative survey, based on Sheffield pilot
  • Academic validation from National Social Norms Institute
  • Fieldwork April / May 2010
    • University of the Arts
    • University of Leeds
    • University of Gloucestershire
  • Local promotion
  • Cash prize draw incentive
slide4

Sample

  • Total 1,351 valid student responses:
    • University of the Arts, 352
    • University of Gloucestershire, 283
    • University of Leeds, 695
  • Statistically significant
  • 73% female, 27% male respondents, in keeping with wider social research response rates. No weighting has been applied
  • 92% respondents 18-24 years old
  • Representation across all year groups (37% 1st years; 27% 2nd years; 26% 3rd/4th years; 10% postgraduate)
slide5

Results

  • Pre-university perceptions
  • Before attending university, 62% (n=827) of respondents believed that students got drunk “most of the time”
  • Spontaneous perceptions of media representation
  • Most (87%, n=1,159) felt that there was some truth in the media representation of student drinking
  • Many (59%, n=785 ) believed that they conformed to media representation some of the time, but only 3% believed this was representative of them all of the time
slide6

Disrespectful, unintelligent, lowerclass, (f, Glos)

Disrespectful, Spoilt, Unappreciative (m, UoA)

Defecating over war memorials, sick, slutty (f, Leeds)

Crazy, party, fun (f, UoA)

Prompted perceptions of media representation

96% (n=1,248) of all respondents believed that the media portrayal of students is negative

slide7

Their own representativeness of the media

  • 54% (n=698) of respondents report that they never behave in the manner depicted in the media
  • Only 31% (n=413) of respondents agreed that they behaved in the manner depicted in the media some of the time
slide10

Self assurance

The majority of student drinkers are self assured in their drinking habits, with 76% (n=1,003) stating that they never felt embarrassed when not drinking large amounts of alcohol

slide11

Occasional embarrassment is the norm

  • 61% (n=779) of drinkers report feeling embarrassed by their own behaviour after drinking on occasion. 12% (n=156) report this “all the time” or “frequently”
  • Behavioural embarrassment extends beyond the individual with 67% (n=891) of all respondents reporting feeling embarrassed by their friends occasionally
slide12

Some protective behaviours decline with drinker type

  • A decline in protective behaviours is associated with heavy drinkers
  • Interestingly, moderate drinkers (n=596) are most likely to stay together on a night out with 97% (n=575) reporting staying together “All the time” or “Frequently”
  • Females are more likely to stay together with friends “All the time” than males
slide13

Alcohol consumed

  • 94% (n=1,245) of respondents had drunk alcohol at university in the last year.
  • Males report drinking on average two more drinks that females on a typical night out
  • The majority (69%, n = 908) do not expect to drink more after graduating
slide14

Self perception of drinking type

  • 55% (n=727) of respondents reported that they felt that they drank more sensibly than the average student
slide15

Analysis

  • Spontaneous agreement media portrayal represents a minority
  • Some good news on drinking student habits
  • Courses seem to take priority
  • Mitigation to slow the effects of alcohol is common
  • Most student drinkers make plans about getting home
  • Few buy drinks in rounds
  • Opportunities for social norm interventions exist…
  • The majority go with the flow
  • Relatively few alternate alcoholic and soft drinks
  • Males more likely to report risk behaviours
slide16

…because perceived social norms are largely negative

  • More embarrassed by behaviours of others than selves
  • More than 50% of drinkers believe they drink more sensibly than others
  • Reported volumes drunk are high
  • Nearly all drink some alcohol
  • Most expect to drink less after graduating
  • Social norms interventions could benefit the risk-taking minority
  • Normalising the volume of drinking against the broader demographic will further understanding
slide17

Contact info

  • Lizzie Bone, Research Manager,ebone@nussl.co.uk
  • Jamie Agombar, Ethical & Environmental Manager,
  • jagombar@nussl.co.uk