Broad social motives, alcohol use, and related problems: Mechanisms of risk from high school through college

William Corbin, Derek K. Iwamoto, Kim Fromme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Broad social motives (not specific to alcohol use) have been established as an important predictor of alcohol use and problems among college students, but we have little understanding of the mechanisms through which such motives operate. Thus, the current study examined broad social motives prior to college entry as a predictor of college drinking/problems and sought to identify potential mechanisms through which they are associated with increased risk. Participants comprised a sample of 2245 incoming college students (59.9% women) transitioning from high school through the college years. The first web-based survey was completed during the summer prior to matriculation with participants reporting on their behavior during the spring of high school senior year. Additional surveys were administered each academic semester through the fall of the fourth year. High school social motives were examined as a predictor of changes in alcohol use/problems from high school through the senior year, with changes in descriptive norms, personal drinking values, and alcohol expectancies from high school to sophomore year examined as possible mediators of these relations. Descriptive norms, personal drinking values, and alcohol expectancies were robust mediators of broad social motives for both alcohol use and problems. Although there were a few differences by race/ethnicity in the alcohol use model, the mechanisms through which broad social motives operated were largely invariant across groups. These findings shed light on important mechanisms that can be targeted in prevention programs, particularly those that target groups who are likely to be high in broad social motives (e.g., fraternity/sorority members).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-230
Number of pages9
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Alcohol use
  • College students
  • Descriptive norms
  • Expectancies
  • Personal drinking values
  • Social motives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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