Dangerous Beliefs: College Alcohol Beliefs Are Associated With Increased Risk of Regretted Sexual Encounters

Subst Use Misuse. 2016 Oct 14;51(12):1555-1565. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2016.1188953. Epub 2016 Jul 26.


This study explored the relative impact of college alcohol beliefs (CABs; i.e., the extent to which the student views alcohol as part of the fabric of college life), descriptive norms, injunctive norms, positive alcohol expectancies, and sensation seeking on college students' (N = 415) risk for engaging in regretted sexual encounters (RSE). Overall, 12% of our sample reported having experienced RSE within the past 30 days. When pitted against the other traditional predictors of college student drinking and its consequences, such as positive alcohol expectancies, descriptive and injunctive norms, and sensation seeking, CABs emerged as the strongest correlate of RSE other than drinking itself, and explained significant additional variance in RSE beyond these other predictors. Mediation analyses revealed that CABs had a significant indirect effect on RSE through typical weekly drinking. This pattern of findings indicates that college alcohol beliefs are, from a public health perspective, dangerous beliefs, that warrant serious consideration in the development of new approaches to college student drinking and its consequences.

Keywords: Alcohol expectancies; college alcohol beliefs; college drinking culture; college student drinking; descriptive norms; incremental validity; injunctive norms; regretted sex; sensation seeking.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking in College*
  • Ethanol
  • Humans
  • Students
  • Universities


  • Ethanol