Fraternity and Sorority Involvement, Social Influences, and Alcohol Use Among College Students: A Prospective Examination

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This study used latent growth curve modeling to investigate whether the effects of gender and Greek involvement on alcohol use and problems over the first 2 years of college are best characterized by selection, socialization, or reciprocal influence processes. Three social influences (alcohol offers, social modeling, and perceived norms) were examined as potential mediators of these effects. Undergraduate participants (N = 388) completed self-report measures prior to enrollment and in the spring of their freshmen and sophomore years. Male gender and involvement in the Greek system were associated with greater alcohol use and problems prior to college. Both gender and Greek involvement significantly predicted increases in alcohol use and problems over the first 2 years of college. Cross-domain analyses provided strong support for a mediational role of each of the social influence constructs on alcohol use and problems prior to matriculation, and prematriculation social modeling and alcohol offers mediated relations between Greek involvement and changes in alcohol use over time. Findings suggest that students, particularly men, who affiliate with Greek organizations constitute an at-risk group prior to entering college, suggesting the need for selected interventions with this population, which should take place before or during the pledging process.

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