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Friday, March 22, 2013

Reliance on God, Prayer, and Religion Reduces Influence of Perceived Norms on Drinking

Previous research has shown that perceived social norms are among the strongest predictors of drinking among young adults. Research has also consistently found religiousness to be protective against risk and negative health behaviors. The present research evaluates the extent to which reliance on God, prayer, and religion moderates the association between perceived social norms and drinking.

Participants (n = 1,124 undergraduate students) completed a cross-sectional survey online, which included measures of perceived norms, religious values, and drinking. Perceived norms were assessed by asking participants their perceptions of typical student drinking. Drinking outcomes included drinks per week, drinking frequency, and typical quantity consumed.

Regression analyses indicated that religiousness and perceived norms had significant unique associations in opposite directions for all three drinking outcomes. Significant interactions were evident between religiousness and perceived norms in predicting drinks per week, frequency, and typical quantity. In each case, the interactions indicated weaker associations between norms and drinking among those who assigned greater importance to religiousness.

The extent of the relationship between perceived social norms and drinking was buffered by the degree to which students identified with religiousness. A growing body of literature has shown interventions including personalized feedback regarding social norms to be an effective strategy in reducing drinking among college students. The present research suggests that incorporating religious or spiritual values into student interventions may be a promising direction to pursue.

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