Cultural, familial, peer, and cognitive predictors of black and white college student drinking

Robyn Glover, Fordham University


The purpose of the present study was to add to the social science literature regarding the development of patterns of alcohol consumption among Black and White college students. Specifically, the goal of the research was to examine the impact of culture, family, peer, and cognitive factors on the drinking behavior of Black and White college freshmen. The research included 202 Black and 189 White first-year college students. Participants completed a national web-based survey on drinking behavior and attitudes. The self-report measures included in the survey were used to examine cultural (ethnic identity, obligation to family, religiosity), family (parental control, family cohesion, maternal approval of drinking), peer (peer alcohol consumption, peer alcohol approval, college drinking norms), and cognitive (positive drinking expectations, negative drinking expectations, academic motivation, drinking values) factors associated with drinking. Results from structural equation modeling indicated that, after respecification, the study model fit the data adequately, suggesting relationships among the included variables are important in understanding the development of drinking behavior for Black and White students. Multivariate analysis of variance indicated that Black students drink less alcohol and binge less frequently than White students. Black student reported higher levels of protective factors such as ethnic identity, obligation to family, and religiosity. White students reported higher levels of risk factors such as maternal approval of drinking, amount of peer alcohol use, positive drinking expectations, and the belief that drinking is a personal choice. Multiple regression analysis indicated that family and cognitive factors accounted for more variance in drinking behavior for Black students, while peer and cultural factors accounted for more of the variance for White students. For both racial/ethnic groups, the influence of culture on drinking was mediated by family, peer, and cognitive factors. Additionally, the influence of peers on drinking was mediated by cognitions. For Black students only, the influence of family on drinking was mediated by peer and cognitive factors. The study highlights the importance of extending research on college student drinking to encompass Black students. Findings related to ethnic differences in exposure and vulnerability to risk factors are relevant to preventative interventions for both Black and White college populations.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Glover, Robyn, "Cultural, familial, peer, and cognitive predictors of black and white college student drinking" (2009). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3384639.