Social networks and college drinking: Probing processes of social influence and selection

Alan Reifman, Wendy K. Watson, Andrea McCourt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


This study used a three-wave panel design (N = 119 complete cases for all waves) to test for social influence and selection in the relation of college students' heavy drinking and that of their social networks. Evidence emerged for both social influence and selection, leading the authors to probe more specialized issues related to each. Results regarding social influence revealed, further, that greater presence in the network of individuals that the focal respondent considered "drinking buddies" was predictive of one's own later drinking, controlling for potential confounds. Network demographic characteristics associated with a "risky" (i.e., heavy-drinking) network also were documented. An additional finding, important for selection, was that wave-to-wave change in average network drinking appeared to result primarily from network members with different drinking levels being added to and dropped from the network. Findings are discussed in the context of the recent renaissance in social-network research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)820-832
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • College student drinking
  • Selection
  • Social influence
  • Social networks


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