Test of a deviance regulation theory intervention among first-year college student drinkers: Differential effects via frequency and quantity norms. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: First-time-in-college (FTIC) students are relatively inexperienced with alcohol and have pressure to assimilate to new norms, and, therefore, are at a heightened risk of alcohol-related consequences. The present study investigates the use of a brief deviance regulation theory (DRT) intervention to increase the use of protective behavioral strategies (PBS) among FTIC students. METHOD: Participation took place completely online. Participants were first-year college students (n = 147, Mage = 18.11, 77.68% female) at a large southwest U.S. university. Participants were randomly assigned one of three conditions: (a) a positive message about individuals who use PBS, (b) a negative message about individuals who do not use PBS, or (c) an assessment-only control group. Participants then completed weekly assessments for 5 weeks, examining alcohol use and consequences, PBS use, and perceived PBS norms. Contrasting previous research, the present study investigated weekly effects of the intervention. In addition, norm type (quantity vs. frequency) was examined as moderators of intervention messaging. RESULTS: Across conditions, both quantity and frequency norms increased over time. The positive message produced immediate and lasting effects on SLD PBS among those with higher (+ 1 SD) frequency norms. The intervention effects for the negative message, using the quantity norm, grew across time on all PBS. CONCLUSIONS: These results provide initial support for the use of a DRT prevention program for FTIC students. Negative messages may promote long-term PBS use, while positive messages may be most effective in addressing immediate and lasting changes in the use of alcohol protective strategies. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

published proceedings

  • Psychol Addict Behav

author list (cited authors)

  • Leary, A. V., Dvorak, R. D., Troop-Gordon, W., Blanton, H., Peterson, R., Kramer, M. P., De Leon, A. N., & Magri, T.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Leary, Angelina V||Dvorak, Robert D||Troop-Gordon, Wendy||Blanton, Hart||Peterson, Roselyn||Kramer, Matthew P||De Leon, Ardhys N||Magri, Tatiana

publication date

  • January 2022