In this longitudinal study, we disentangled within- and between-persons effects in the relationship between university students' status in their drinking group and alcohol-related behavior. We further examined the role of self-perceived and peer-reported status, with the hypothesis that only when students' peers reported them as of a higher status, and they were aware of their high status (via self-report), would they experience increased heavy episodic drinking (HED). University students (N = 118; Mage = 19.40, SD = 1.49; 60.2% women) were recruited in their natural drinking groups (N = 27). All group members completed surveys at 3 time points during the school year, each 2 months apart. We fitted a taxonomy of multilevel growth curve models predicting students' self-reported HED and the extent to which they encouraged other group members to consume alcohol (peer-reported). Between-persons results demonstrated that students who reported higher status compared to their group members experienced more HED on average and students who were peer-reported as of a higher status relative to their group members played a more salient role in encouraging others to drink. Notably, and consistent with hypotheses, a within-person interaction revealed that at time points when students were higher in peer-reported status relative to their average, and they were aware of their increase in status (via self-reports), they also engaged in more HED. Results emphasize the importance of considering within-person effects and highlight the need for university alcohol-prevention programming to focus on students' status-related motives and concerns.
- Drinking groups
- Peer groups