Multicontextual influences on high risk behaviors among college students

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to examine whether peer involvement, family involvement, media within the school campus, and cultural beliefs about college life were related to student involvement in risky behaviors, such as binge drinking, illicit drug use, risky sexual behavior, and problem gambling. Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Model was utilized to explain how high risk behaviors were viewed within a multi-contextual framework of the micro-, meso-, exo-, and macrosystems. Participants were a convenience sample of 194 college men and women from a private university in Southern California. Participants completed a packet of surveys that contained self-report items regarding consumption of alcohol, drug use, sexual behavior, and gambling behavior, as well as perceptions of parents/peers influence, perception of media influence, and perceptions of college culture. Results from standard multiple regressions performed on each dependent variable showed that parents, peers, and college beliefs influenced problem drinking; parents, peers, and college beliefs influenced illicit drug use; peers influenced risky sexual behavior; and peers, media, and college beliefs influenced gambling. Results from a Multivariate Analysis of Variance examining the peers and parental influence revealed a significant multivariate interaction effect of Peers X Parents. Peers influenced all four variables; parents influenced alcohol and risky sexual behavior; while the interaction of the mesosystem influenced illicit drugs. The findings of the study support both hypotheses.

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