The Effects of Next-Day Class Characteristics on Alcohol Demand in College Students

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Behavioral economic principles have been useful for addressing strategies to reduce alcohol consumption among college students. For example, academic variables (such as class schedule or academic rigor) have been found to affect alcohol demand assessed with a hypothetical alcohol purchase task (APT). The present studies used the APT to address the effects of 2 academic variables: next-day course level (no class, introductory level or upper level) and class size (no class, 30-student or 12-student). In each of 2 experiments, undergraduate participants read a description of a drinking context (either a no-class control version or 1 of the academic constraint conditions) and were asked to indicate how many drinks they would purchase at a variety of prices. Hursh and Silberberg’s (2008) exponential demand equation was used to determine intensity and elasticity of demand, and Hursh and Roma’s (2015) essential value (EV) parameter was calculated to assess essential value. In both experiments, a next-day class reduced alcohol demand, and alcohol consumption decreased as drink price increased. The presence of a smaller next-day class reduced alcohol demand compared with a larger next-day class; however, course level did not differentially affect alcohol demand. These results suggest that smaller next-day classes may reduce alcohol demand among college students and also provide initial evidence for the reliability of EV across studies.

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