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Keywords:

  • College;
  • Drinking;
  • Standard Drink;
  • Peer;
  • Social Norms

Background

College drinking is a global health concern. However, most studies originate from countries with high alcohol consumption. In the United States, college students overpour a standard alcoholic drink, yet it is unclear if this remains true in countries with low alcohol consumption. Additionally, in college, peer influence is the greatest predictor of drinking behavior, yet it is unknown if social norms affect how students pour drinks. This study examined how male college students, in a country with low alcohol consumption, define standard drinks, and if the presence of an unfamiliar peer affects how students pour during a simulated alcohol-pouring task.

Methods

Male undergraduate students (= 105) underwent baseline assessments of impulsivity, self-monitoring, religiosity, and drinking characteristics. Participants poured fluid into empty cups of different sizes to equal a standard serving of beer or shot of liquor. There were 2 groups based on gender of experimenter. Within each group, participants were randomly assigned to Alone or Dyad condition. In the Alone condition, students were instructed to pour only for themselves. In the Dyad condition, students were instructed to pour for themselves and the experimenter. The volumes poured by the students were compared with standards used in Singapore and the United States.

Results

Collapsed across container size, students overpoured shots by 50% and beer by 100% when compared to the standard drink definition in Singapore. When using a more liberal definition, students overpoured beer by 25%, but did not overpour shots. In the presence of an unfamiliar peer, overpouring decreased by 10% for beer.

Conclusions

The current data show that college students, in a country with low alcohol consumption, overestimate standard alcoholic drinks similar to their Western counterparts and use social norms to determine how much to pour for a drink when confronted with an unfamiliar peer. Efforts toward creating internationally recognized standard drink definitions should be considered.