Event- and context-specific normative misperceptions and high-risk drinking: 21st birthday celebrations and football tailgating

Clayton Neighbors, Laura Oster-Aaland, Rochelle L. Bergstrom, Melissa A. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Objective: Negative alcohol-related consequences often occur during specific events and in specific contexts (e.g., 21st birthday celebrations and tailgating parties). A lack of available event- and context-specific interventions suggests the need to better understand factors associated with heavy drinking in these contexts, with an eye toward developing specific interventions. The purpose of this research was to lay the foundation for developing personalized normative feedback interventions for 21st birthday celebratory drinking and tailgating drinking by evaluating whether students overestimate norms in these specific contexts, as they do more generally. Method: Perceived descriptive norms and alcohol consumption were assessed at event- and context-specific levels in two studies. Study 1 included 119 students turning 21 years old who reported their 21st birthday drinking behavior and estimated the typical number of drinks consumed by students celebrating their 21st birthday. Study 2 included 140 undergraduates drawn from a stratified random sample who reported their behavior regarding drinking and tailgating and their perceived norms for typical drinking and tailgating behavior. Results: Results from Study 1 revealed that students overestimated peer drinking during 21st birthday celebrations, and this overestimation was associated with heavier drinking on one's own 21st birthday. In Study 2, students underestimated the percentage of tailgaters who drank but overestimated typical consumption. Overestimation was consistently associated with heavier drinking during tailgating. Conclusions: Successful correction of general normative misperceptions has been shown to reduce drinking in other research. Documentation of normative misperceptions for specific events and contexts provided by these results represents an important step in developing event- and context-specific interventions utilizing specific normative feedback.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


Dive into the research topics of 'Event- and context-specific normative misperceptions and high-risk drinking: 21st birthday celebrations and football tailgating'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this