Objective: This study tested whether perceived parental approval of high-risk drinking is directly linked to alcohol-related outcomes or whether the link between perceived parental approval and these outcomes is mediated by perceived friends’ approval of high-risk drinking. Method: In fall 2009, 1,797 incoming first-year college students (49.7% female) from 142 U.S. colleges and universities completed a web-based survey before participating in an online substance use prevention program. The analytic sample included only 18- to 20-year-old freshmen students who had consumed alcohol in the past year. Students answered questions about perceived parental approval and perceived friends’ approval of high-risk drinking. They also answered questions about their alcohol use (heavy episodic drinking, risky drinking behaviors), use of self-protective strategies (to prevent drinking and driving and to moderate alcohol use), and negative alcohol-related consequences (health, academic and work, social consequences, and drinking and driving). Results: Mediation analyses controlling for the clustering of students within schools indicated that perceived parental approval was directly associated with more easily observable outcomes (e.g., academic- and work-related consequences, drinking and driving). Perceived friends’ approval significantly mediated the link between perceived parental approval and outcomes that are less easily observed (e.g., alcohol use, health consequences). Conclusions: During the transition to college, parents may influence students’ behaviors both directly (through communication) as well as indirectly (by shaping their values and whom students select as friends). Alcohol use prevention programs for students about to start college should address both parental and friend influences on alcohol use.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Psychiatry and Mental health