Get access

Knowing Where They're Going: Destination-Specific Pregaming Behaviors in a Multiethnic Sample of College Students


  • Janine V. Olthuis’ contribution to this manuscript was supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and by a Killam Predoctoral Scholarship.

  • Brian Borsari's contribution to this manuscript was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Grants R01-AA015518 and R01-AA017874.

  • The contents of this article do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.

Please address correspondence to: Byron L. Zamboanga, Department of Psychology, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063. E-mail:



To examine how legal age status, gender, and self-reported reasons for pregaming are linked to pregaming for two common drinking contexts: a bar and a Greek party.


Participants who reported pregaming at least once a month (n = 2888 students aged 18-25 years) were recruited from 30 colleges/universities across the United States.


Many students pregame for social reasons regardless of pregaming destination. Multivariate analyses indicated that legal age students were more likely than underage students to pregame before going to a bar, whereas the opposite was true with respect to pregaming for a Greek party. Women were more likely than men to pregame before going to a bar or a Greek party, whereas men reported higher levels of consumption while pregaming for these destinations compared with women.


The present findings suggest areas for targeted intervention efforts and promising avenues for research on context-specific pregaming behaviors among college students.