Advertisement

Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Associations Between Mixed-Gender Friendships, Gender Reference Group Identity and Substance Use in College Students

Abstract

We investigated the associations between same-gender friendship, gender reference group identity, and substance use in college students (54 % male, M age = 19.23, SD = 1.23) from the northeastern United States using an online survey. Male students reported greater weekly marijuana, but not alcohol use than female students. Regression analyses revealed that having a greater proportion of same-gender friendships was associated with greater weekly alcohol use for male students and lesser weekly alcohol and marijuana use for female students. Gender reference group identity was negatively associated with weekly marijuana use for male and female students. For female students, gender reference group identity mediated the association between proportion of same-gender friendships and weekly marijuana use. Our study highlights the importance of considering the social context (e.g., the gender of friends) and individual variables relating to gender (e.g. gender reference group identity) in substance use research. Our findings fit within social constructionist models of social development that suggest participation in gendered contexts (e.g., same-gender or other-gender-peer contexts) over time cue gender-typed behaviors such as using marijuana.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Akers, R. L. (1998). Social learning and social structure: A general theory of crime and deviance. Boston: Northeastern University.

  2. Akers, R. L., Krohn, M. D., Lanza-Kaduce, L., & Radosevich, M. (1979). Social learning and deviant behavior: A specific test of a general theory. American Sociological Review, 44, 636–655. doi:10.2307/2094592.

  3. American Psychological Association (2002). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx.

  4. Andrews, J. A., Tildesley, E., Hops, H., & Li, F. (2002). The influence of peers on young adult substance use. Health Psychology, 21, 349–357. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.21.4.349.

  5. Arndorfer, C. L., & Stormshak, E. A. (2008). Same-sex versus other-sex best friendship in early adolescence: Longitudinal predictors of antisocial behavior throughout adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37, 1059–1070. doi:10.1007/s10964-008-9311-x.

  6. Arnett, J. J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist, 55, 469–480. doi:10.1037//0003-066X.55.5.469.

  7. Bahr, S. J., Hoffmann, J. P., & Yang, X. (2005). Parental and peer influences on the risk of adolescent drug use. Journal of Primary Prevention, 26, 529–551. doi:10.1007/s10935-005-0014-8.

  8. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychlogy, 51, 1173–1182. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.51.6.117.

  9. Boyd, C. J., McCabe, S. E., Cranford, J. A., Morales, M., Lange, J. E., Reed, M. B., Ketchie, J. M., & Scott, M. S. (2008). Heavy episodic drinking and its consequences: The protective effects of same-sex, residential living-learning communities for undergraduate women. Addictive Behaviors, 33, 987–993. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2008.03.005.

  10. Bukowski, W. M., Sippola, L. K., & Hoza, B. (1999). Same and other: Interdependency between participation in same- and other-sex friendships. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 28, 439–459. doi:10.1023/a:1021664923911.

  11. Capraro, R. L. (2000). Why college men drink: Alcohol, adventure, and the paradox of masculinity. Journal of American College Health, 48, 307–315. doi:10.1080/07448480009596272.

  12. Carter, D. B. (1987). The roles of peers in sex role socialization. In D. B. Carter (Ed.), Current conceptions of sex roles and sex typing: Theory and research (pp. 101–121). New York: Praeger Publishers.

  13. Chomak, S., & Collins, R. L. (1987). Relationship between sex-role behaviors and alcohol consumption in undergraduate men and women. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 48, 194–201.

  14. Copenhaver, M. M., & Eisler, R. M. (1996). Masculine gender role stress: A perspective on men’s health. In P. M. Kato & T. Mann (Eds.), Handbook of diversity issues in health psychology (pp. 219–235). New York: Plenum Press. doi:10.1007/978-0-585-27572-7_12.

  15. Courtenay, W. H. (2000). Constructions of masculinity and their influence on men’s well-being: A theory of gender and health. Social Science & Medicine, 50, 1385–1401. doi:10.1016/S0277-9536(99)00390-1.

  16. De Visser, R. O., & Smith, J. A. (2007). Alcohol consumption and masculine identity among young men. Psychology & Health, 22, 595–614. doi:10.1080/14768320600941772.

  17. Deaux, K., & Major, B. (1987). Putting gender into context: An interactive model of gender-related behavior. Psychological Review, 94, 369–389. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.94.3.369.

  18. Dempster, S. (2011). I drink, therefore I’m man: Gender discourses, alcohol and the construction of British undergraduate masculinities. Gender & Education, 23, 635–653. doi:10.1080/09540253.2010.527824.

  19. Diamond, L. M., & Dubé, E. M. (2002). Friendship and attachment among heterosexual and sexual-minority youths: Does the gender of your friend matter? Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 31, 155–166. doi:10.1023/a:1014026111486.

  20. Dick, D. M., Pagan, J. L., Holliday, C., Viken, R., Pulkkinen, L., Kaprio, J., & Rose, R. J. (2007). Gender differences in friends’ influences on adolescent drinking: A genetic epidemiological study. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 31, 2012–2019. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2007.00523.x.

  21. Gaughan, M. (2006). The gender structure of adolescent peer influence on drinking. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 47, 47–51. doi:10.1177/002214650604700104.

  22. Hibell, B., Guttormsson, U., Ahlström, S., Balakireva, O., Bjarnason, T., Kokkevi, A., & Kraus, L. (2012). The 2011 ESPAD report: Substance use among students in 36 European countries. Retrieved from: http://www.espad.org/Uploads/ESPAD_reports/2011/The_2011_ESPAD_Report_FULL_2012_06-08.pdf.

  23. Hoeppner, B. B., Paskausky, A. L., Jackson, K. M., & Barnett, N. P. (2013). Sex differences in college student adherence to NIAAA drinking guidelines. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 37, 1779–1786. doi:10.1111/acer.12159.

  24. Hummer, J. F., LaBrie, J. W., Lac, A., Sessoms, A., & Cail, J. (2012). Estimates and influences of reflective opposite-sex norms on alcohol use among a high-risk sample of college students: Exploring Greek-affiliation and gender effects. Addictive Behaviors, 37, 596–604. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2011.11.027.

  25. Huselid, R. F., & Cooper, M. L. (1992). Gender roles as mediators of sex differences in adolescent alcohol use and abuse. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 33, 348–362. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.103.4.595.

  26. Huselid, R. F., & Cooper, M. L. (1994). Gender roles as mediators of sex differences in expressions of pathology. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103, 595–603. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.103.4.595.

  27. Iwamoto, D. K., & Smiler, A. P. (2013). Alcohol makes you macho and helps you make friends: The role of masculine norms and peer pressure in adolescent boys’ and girls’ alcohol use. Substance Use and Misuse, 48, 371–378. doi:10.3109/10826084.2013.765479.

  28. Iwamoto, D. K., Cheng, A., Lee, C. S., Takamatsu, S., & Gordon, D. (2011). “Man-ing” up and getting drunk: The role of masculine norms, alcohol intoxication and alcohol-related problems among college men. Addictive Behaviors, 36, 906–911. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2011.04.005.

  29. Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2012). Monitoring the future national results on adolescent drug use: Overview of key findings, 2011. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.

  30. Knecht, A. B., Burk, W. J., Weesie, J., & Steglich, C. (2011). Friendship and alcohol use in early adolescence: A multilevel social network approach. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21, 475–487. doi:10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00685.x.

  31. Kulis, S., Marsiglia, F. F., & Hecht, M. L. (2002). Gender labels and gender identity as predictors of drug use among ethnically diverse middle school students. Youth and Society, 33, 442–475. doi:10.1177/0044118X02033003005.

  32. Lye, D. N., & Waldron, I. (1998). Relationships of substance use to attitudes toward gender roles, family, and cohabitation. Journal of Substance Abuse, 10, 185–198. doi:10.1016/S0899-3289(99)80133-3.

  33. Maccoby, E. E. (1998). The two sexes: Growing up apart, coming together. Cambridge: Belknap Press/Harvard University Press.

  34. Malow-Iroff, M. S. (2006). Cross-sex best friendship influences on early adolescent cigarette and alcohol expectancies and use. The Journal of Psychology, 140, 209–227. doi:10.3200/JRLP.140.3.209-227.

  35. Marshal, M. P., Friedman, M. S., Stall, R., King, K. M., Miles, J., Gold, M. A., Bukstein, O. G., & Morse, J. Q. (2008). Sexual orientation and adolescent substance use: A meta-analysis and methodological review. Addiction, 103, 546–556. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.02149.x.

  36. Martin, C. L., & Fabes, R. A. (2001). The stability and consequences of young children’s same-sex peer interactions. Developmental Psychology, 37, 431–446. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.37.3.431.

  37. McDougall, P., & Hymel, S. (2007). Same-gender versus cross-gender friendship conceptions: Similar or different? Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 53, 347–380. doi:10.1353/mpq.2007.0018.

  38. Mehta, C. M., & Strough, J. (2009). Sex segregation in friendships and normative contexts across the life span. Developmental Review, 29, 201–220. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2009.06.001.

  39. Mehta, C., & Strough, J. (2010). Gender segregation and gender-typing in adolescence. Sex Roles, 63, 251–263. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9780-8.

  40. Michaelieu, Q. (1997). III. Female identity, gendered parenting and adolescent women’s self-esteem. Feminism & Psychology, 7, 328–333. doi:10.1177/0959353597073005.

  41. Monk, D., & Ricciardelli, L. A. (2003). Three dimensions of the male gender role as correlates of alcohol and cannabis involvement in young Australian men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 4, 57–69. doi:10.1037/1524-9220.4.1.57.

  42. Monsour, M. (2002). Women and men as friends: Relationships across the life span in the 21st century. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

  43. Mrug, S., Borch, C., & Cillessen, A. H. N. (2011). Other-sex friendships in late adolescence: Risky associations for substance use and sexual debut. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 40, 875–888. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9605-7.

  44. Mullen, K., Watson, J., Swift, J., & Black, D. (2007). Young men, masculinity and alcohol. Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy, 14, 151–165. doi:10.1080/09687630600997816.

  45. Peralta, R. (2007). College alcohol use and the embodiment of hegemonic masculinity among European American men. Sex Roles, 56, 741–756. doi:10.1007/s11199-007-9233-1.

  46. Peralta, R. L., & Steele, J. L. (2010). Non-medical prescription drug use among US college students at a midwest university: A partial test of social learning theory. Substance Use and Misuse, 45, 865–887. doi:10.3109/10826080903443610.

  47. Peralta, R. L., Steele, J. L., Nofziger, S., & Rickles, M. (2010). The impact of gender on binge drinking behavior among college students attending a midwestern university: An analysis of two gender measures. Feminist Criminology, 5, 355–379. doi:10.1177/1557085110386363.

  48. Poulin, F., & Pedersen, S. (2007). Developmental changes in gender composition of friendship networks in adolescent girls and boys. Developmental Psychology, 43, 1484–1496. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.43.6.1484.

  49. Poulin, F., Denault, A. S., & Pedersen, S. (2011). Longitudinal associations between other-sex friendships and substance use in adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21, 776–788. doi:10.1111/j.1532-7795.2011.00736.x.

  50. Razzino, B. E., Ribordy, S. C., Grant, K., Ferrari, J. R., Bowden, B. S., & Zeisz, J. (2004). Gender-related processes and drug use: Self expression with parents, peer group selection, and achievement motivation. Adolescence, 39, 167–177.

  51. Room, R. (1996). Gender roles and interactions in drinking and drug use. Journal of Substance Abuse, 8, 227–239. doi:10.1016/S0899-3289(96)90271-0.

  52. Rose, A. J., & Rudolph, K. D. (2006). A review of sex differences in peer relationship processes: Potential trade-offs for the emotional and behavioral development of girls and boys. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 98–131. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.132.1.98.

  53. Schulte, M. T., Ramo, D., & Brown, S. A. (2009). Gender differences in factors influencing alcohol use and drinking progression among adolescents. Clinical Psychology Review, 29, 535–547. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2009.06.003.

  54. Silverthorn, P., & Frick, P. J. (1999). Developmental pathways to antisocial behavior: The delayed-onset pathway in girls. Development and Psychopathology, 11, 101–126. doi:10.1017/s0954579499001972.

  55. Steele, J. L., Peralta, R. L., & Elman, C. (2011). The co-ingestion of nonmedical prescription drugs and alcohol: A partial test of social learning theory. Journal of Drug Issues, 41, 561–586.

  56. Strough, J., & Covatto, A. M. (2002). Context and age differences in same- and other-gender peer preferences. Social Development, 11, 346–361. doi:10.1111/1467-9507.00204.

  57. Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of national findings, NSDUH series H-44, HHS publication no. (SMA) 12–4713. Rockville: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

  58. Sutherland, E. H. (1939). Principles of criminology. Chicago: J.B. Lippincott Company.

  59. Wade, J. C. (2008). Masculinity ideology, male reference-group identity dependence, and African American men’s health-related attitudes and behaviors. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 9, 5–16. doi:10.1037/1524-9220.9.1.5.

  60. Whiting, B., & Edwards, C. P. (1988). A cross-cultural analysis of sex differences in the behavior of children aged 3 through 11. In G. Handel (Ed.), Childhood socialization (pp. 281–297). Hawthorne: Aldine de Gruyter.

  61. Wright, P. (1989). Gender differences in adults’ same- and cross-gender friendships. In R. G. Adams & R. Blieszner (Eds.), Older adult friendship: Structure and process (pp. 197–221). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Download references

Acknowledgement

The authors would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers who provided feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript. We would also like to thank Grant Kuehl, Kelly R. Smith, and Danielle Rose for their comments.

Author information

Correspondence to Clare M. Mehta.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mehta, C.M., Alfonso, J., Delaney, R. et al. Associations Between Mixed-Gender Friendships, Gender Reference Group Identity and Substance Use in College Students. Sex Roles 70, 98–109 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-013-0334-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Gender segregation
  • Same-sex friendships
  • Cross-sex friendships marijuana use
  • Alcohol use
  • Gender identity
  • College students