Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Presented at Association for Psychological Educational Research Conference. Wichita, KS. Nov. 2009. Also available at:


Despite laws in every State that make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or possess alcohol, young people report that alcohol is easy to obtain and that many high school and college students drink with one goal – to get drunk. Binge drinking is defined as consuming six or more drinks in a row for boys and four or more in a row for girls. In this exploratory research, several articles were gathered in order to integrate previous findings in the current study. One factor that was looked at in the current study was if age of first drink had an impact on college drinking amount and frequency. In a study by Grigar (2002), age when participants first drank and age of first intoxication predicted the level of alcohol related consequences. This research demonstrates as age of first drink decreases, alcohol-related problems such as binge drinking increases.

Rush, Becker and Curry (2009) found elevated rates of comorbidity between binge eating and alcohol related problems. Alcohol use problems and their associations with neuroticism were discussed. Using the Five Factor Model, the authors assessed comprehensive personality factors and style of impulse control, a personality style defined by different combinations of neuroticism and conscientiousness. Those who were in the binge drinkers and eaters group reported a higher level of neuroticism than others. This finding supports the suggestion that neuroticism is positively related to amount and frequency of binge drinking.

Student’s perception of the number of friends who drink and college drinking amount and frequency were also investigated in the recent study. In a study by Miley and Frank (2006), investigated whether there was a relationship between the amount of alcohol students drank themselves and the amount they believed other students drank. Results indicated students who drank more than five drinks at a setting believed other college students drank more than students who drank less. In particular, male college students, on-campus students, and sorority students perceived other college students drinking more than they actually did. This shows that, as proportion of friends who drink increases, college drinking amount and frequency increase.

In a study by Jones, Oeltmann, Wilson, Brener and Hill (2001) the relationship between miscellaneous substance use and binge drinking was investigated. Results showed that students who binge drank more often were more likely to have used cigarettes, marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs. These students were also more likely to report current use of cigarettes and marijuana. This demonstrates a positive relationship between binge drinking and experimental drug use.

Drinking to cope in relationship to quantity and frequency of alcohol intake was discussed in a study by Stewart, Morris, Mellings, and Komar (2006). Correlational analyses (controlling for gender) revealed that: (a) social avoidance and distress was significantly negatively related to drinking frequency; (b) fear of negative evaluation and social avoidance and distress were both significantly positively related to drinking to cope with negative emotions and to conform to peer pressure; and (c) fear of negative evaluation was also significantly positively related to drinking to socialize and to drinking problems. This study supports the suggestion that the more reasons a person has to use substances as a coping mechanism the more often and in higher amounts will they drink.

The current study examines binge drinking amount and frequency as they relate to proportion of friends who drink, neuroticism, use of substances to cope, experimental drug use and age of first drink between genders. The purpose of the study is to examine the relationship between these potential predictors and how and to what extent they affect male and female college binge drinking amount and frequency.