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Influence of Grade-Level Drinking Norms on Individual Drinking Behavior

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Objective: To investigate which points of the middle-school drinking distribution are the most influential in the social contagion of drinking across the middle-school years, in order to identify potential social multipliers. Methods: We measured drinking intentions and behaviors by gender, school, and grade among urban middle-school students who participated in Project Northland Chicago in a longitudinal cohort design. Results: Individual drinking behaviors were consistently influenced by extreme (80th percentile) drinking intentions and behaviors. This effect was mediated through normal or average levels of drinking, over time. Conclusions: Interventions can target extreme drinkers as the influential persons in middle-school grades.


Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Southern California, Department of Psychology, Los Angeles, CA, USA 2: University of Texas School of Public Health, Division of Management, Policy, and Community Health, Austin, TX, USA. 3: Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA 4: University of Texas School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus, Austin, TX, USA 5: Department of Epidemiology and Health Policy, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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