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Emerging adults’ self-identified peer crowd affiliations and college adjustment


Crowd affiliations are integral to academic functioning and school adjustment during adolescence. However, less is known about crowd structures within institutions of higher education. The current study was designed to validate the College Peer Crowd Questionnaire (CPCQ), an instrument designed to assess college students’ self-reported crowd identifications, and examine associations with academic and socioemotional problems that derail college success. Participants were 498 students at a small liberal arts college in the western United States (Mage = 20.08; SD = 1.38, range = 18–26). Confirmatory factor analysis showed that the peer crowd structure could best be described by four underlying crowd dimensions (i.e., social, athletic, scholastic and counterculture) and that the factor structure was invariant across gender and college standing. Using structural equation modeling, we also found that crowd identification was significantly correlated with indices of college adjustment and behaviors that jeopardize academic success. The results highlight the importance of crowd affiliations for college students’ success and adjustment. The results also highlight that the CPCQ is a valid tool for researchers who undertake this research.

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The authors express appreciation to Kathleen DeKoste, Sloane Fisher, Lily Mofit, Zoe Sher and Jessica Wilcox for their assistance with participant recruitment. This research was supported in part by a fellowship to the third author from the Ford Research Mentors Endowment.

Author information

Correspondence to Andrea Hopmeyer.

Appendix 1: Risk and reckless behavior questionnaire

Appendix 1: Risk and reckless behavior questionnaire

Subscale Item
1. Academic risk 1.1 How many times during the past semester have you waited to start working on a paper until the day before (or the day) it was due?
1.2 How many times during the past semester have you cheated on an exam or homework assignment?
1.3 How many times during the past semester have you waited to start studying for an exam until the day before (or the day of) the exam?
1.4 How many times during the past semester have you skipped a class?
2. Sexual risk 2.1 How many times in the past semester have you had unprotected sex?
2.2 How many times in the past semester have you had intercourse with a non-exclusive partner?
2.3 How many times in the past semester have you engaged in any form of sexual activity with a casual acquaintance?
3. Drug risk 3.1 How many times during the past semester have you used a prescription drug that was not your own?
3.2 How many times during the past semester have you used marijuana?
3.3 How many times during the past semester have you used any illegal drug other than marijuana?
3.4 How many times during the past semester have you taken a drug offered to you by a friend?
4. Alcohol risk 4.1 How many times during the past semester have you injured yourself as a result of alcohol consumption (scrapes, falls, etc.)?
4.2 How many times during the past semester have you blacked out from drinking (defined as being completely unable to remember some or all of the events that took place while under the influence)
4.3 How many times during the past semester have you consumed alcohol to the point of physical illness?
4.4 How many times during the past semester have you engaged in any form of sexual activity while under the influence of alcohol (that you would not have chosen to engage in, had you been sober)

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Hopmeyer, A., Troop-Gordon, W., Medovoy, T. et al. Emerging adults’ self-identified peer crowd affiliations and college adjustment. Soc Psychol Educ 20, 643–667 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-017-9390-1

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  • Peer crowds
  • Health risk behaviors
  • School adjustment
  • Emerging adulthood