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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Leisure Activities, the Social Weekend, and Alcohol Use: Evidence From a Daily Study of First-Year College Students

The aim of this study was to document within-person and between-persons associations between the duration of day-to-day activities (volunteering, spiritual activities, media use, socializing, entertainment/campus events and clubs, athletics, classes, working for pay) and alcohol use (quantity and heavy drinking) and to examine whether these associations differed by gender and the time of week.

First-semester college students (N = 717 persons; 51.6% female) provided up to 14 consecutive days of data (N = 9,431 days) via daily web-based surveys. Multilevel analyses tested whether alcohol use was associated with activity duration, gender, and time of week.

Between-persons associations indicated that alcohol use was higher among individuals who spent more time involved in athletics and socializing and lower among students who spent more time in spiritual and volunteer activities. Within-person associations indicated that students consumed more alcohol and were more likely to drink heavily on weekends, on days they spent more time than usual socializing, and on days they spent less time than usual in spiritual activities and using media.

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Select activities and days were linked with less alcohol use at both the between- and within-person levels, suggesting that attention should be paid to both selection effects and social context to understand the mechanisms linking activity duration and student drinking.