Finds Students Hitting Books, Not Booze
August 30, 2004
CTV.ca News Staff
A new study funded by Canada's
brewing companies suggests that university and college students aren't
drinking as much as everyone thinks they are.
In the fall of 2003, the
Canadian Centre for Social Norms Research surveyed more than 5,000 students
across 10 university and college campuses in seven provinces. They asked
students how much they drink, and how much they perceived their fellow
Dr. Wesley Perkins, a professor
of sociology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., says
that "reign of error" rules on Canadian campuses over students'
perceptions of their peers' drinking habits.
"Most students grossly
overestimate both the quantity other students drink as well as the frequency
with which they drink," he said.
The survey found that 63
per cent of students drink twice a month or less.
But, he says, it also found
that 80 per cent of respondents believe that their peers drink once
a week or more often. About one-third of students believe their peers
drink three times or more per week.
The study also found that
64 per cent of students surveyed drink one to four drinks at a party,
yet 67 per cent believe their peers consume five or more drinks per
"It's not to say there
isn't someone out there drinking seven or more drinks, but they're in
the tail of the distribution and not in the centre of the bell curve."
The study found that about
a quarter of respondents believed the average drink count per occasion
among students is seven or more.
Eighty per cent of respondents
reported using a designated driver when they knew they were going to
be drinking alcohol, but only 59 per cent thought their peers would
Perkins says that the more
students misperceive alcohol use among their peers, the more likely
they are to conform to what they view as a social norm and drink in
He hopes that students who have an accurate understanding of student
drinking will constrain irresponsible drinking among their friends and
classmates and bring other students in line with the norms.
Jason Hunter, Dean of Students
at the University of Toronto's Victoria College, says the results of
the study are encouraging.
"What the study does
is it looks at what students are doing and it mirrors that back to them,"