Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Randolph Lee


Alcohol and illicit substance use is recognized as a widespread public health concern across college campuses in the United States (Shepard Meteyer, Bruzios, Pol, & Charpentier 2017). Perceived norms are among the strongest predictors of college student alcohol use and related problems (Ecker, Cohen, & Buckner 2017). Prior research has shown that normative perceptions relate to one’s own drinking behavior (Lewis, Litt, Blayney, Lostutter, Granato, Kilmer, & Lee 2011). This data has shown that college students typically overestimate the amount other students or peers drink. Based on previous literature this can be applied to drug, marijuana, and nicotine use. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between self-report and perceived peer alcohol, drug, marijuana, and nicotine use and to determine if a relationship exists. Specifically, this research aims to investigate if college students overestimate peer drinking and drug use by several contexts (i.e. fraternity/sorority and sports teams) and to examine normative perceptions for drinking and drug use by contexts that relate to one’s own drinking behavior. The participants in this experiment are college students who will complete a 32 item forced-choice questionnaire, which measures the reported personal alcohol, drug, nicotine, and marijuana consumption compared to participants’ perceived norms of their peers’ substance use behavior.

It is hypothesized that those who overestimate peer drinking and substance use will have a higher frequency of self-reported substance use, as well as those who underestimate their peers drinking and substance use will have lower self-reported substance use. It is also hypothesized that those who are in a group, such as a fraternity or sports team, will overestimate peer substance use as well have more frequent substance use. Possible reasons for this overestimation will be discussed.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford, CT for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.