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Social Anxiety, Drinking Game Motives, and Drinking Game Outcomes Among a Large Multisite Sample of University Students

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Abstract

Background

Undergraduates with higher levels of social anxiety may be motivated to participate in high-risk drinking events (e.g., playing drinking games [DG]) as a way to “fit in” or facilitate socialization with peers), putting them at an elevated risk of experiencing alcohol-related negative consequences (e.g., blacking out). The present study sought to test associations between social anxiety symptoms, DG behaviors and consequences, and DG-specific motives among a large, multisite sample of undergraduates.

Methods

Participants were 7,528 undergraduate students who endorsed current (past month) drinking. Participants completed a cross-sectional, self-report survey that included measures of DG behaviors, DG motives, and DG negative consequences as part of a large, multisite observational study.

Results

Consistent with prior work, social anxiety symptoms were negatively associated with lifetime history of DG participation. Among participants who endorsed playing DG in the past 30 days, social anxiety was not associated with DG frequency or quantity, but it was positively associated with all DG motives and cumulative negative DG consequences.

Conclusions

Although undergraduates with higher social anxiety levels were less likely to participate in DGs than those with lower social anxiety levels, among undergraduates who chose to participate in DGs, social anxiety was positively associated with multiple motivations to play DGs and alcohol-related consequences as a result of playing DGs.

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Data Availability

Data are not publicly available. Study analysis code is available upon request from Dr. Amie Newins. This study was not preregistered. Two prior peer-reviewed publications have been published using this dataset from the Acculturation and Substance Use Research Team (ASURT):

1. Zamboanga, B. L., Merrill, J. E., Newins, A.R., Olthuis, J. V., Blumenthal, H., Van Hedger, K., Ham, L. S., Kim, S. Y., Perrotte, J. K., Lui, P. P., McChargue, D., & Piña-Watson, B. (2024). Comparing drinking game motives, behaviors, and consequences among varsity athletes, recreational athletes, and non-student-athletes: A multisite university study. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.15288/jsad.23-00128.

2. Zamboanga, B. L., Merrill, J. E., Newins, A. R., Olthuis, J. V., Van Hedger, K., Blumenthal, H., Kim, S. Y., Grigsby, T. J., Perrotte, J. K., Lui, P. P., & McChargue, D. (2023). A National study on pregaming motives, frequency, consumption, and negative drinking consequences among university students in the United States. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 250, 110,839. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2023.110839.

Notes

  1. The item “I have difficulty talking to attractive persons of the opposite sex” was changed to be more inclusive: “I have difficulty talking to people I find attractive.”

  2. Participants who endorsed typically drinking more than 50 drinks were removed from analyses for the present study.

  3. This revised version of the MPDG includes five additional items which were added in response to the recommendations noted in Zamboanga et al. (2019). Results from a confirmatory factor analysis indicated that the 7-factor structure model fit the data reasonably well (Zamboanga et al., 2024b).

  4. Although participants were clustered within site, intraclass correlation coefficients indicated that less than 1% of the variance in DG variables was accounted for by site, so multilevel models were deemed unnecessary.

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Acknowledgements

As research collaborators for ASURT, Drs. Heidemarie Blumenthal, Miguel A. Cano, Alexandra Davis, Timothy J. Grigsby, Lindsay S. Ham, Su Yeong Kim, P. Priscilla Lui, Jessica L. Martin, Dennis McChargue, Alan Meca, Amie R. Newins, Jessica K. Perrotte, and Brandy Pina-Watson collected data at their site for this project.

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Correspondence to Katherine Walukevich-Dienst.

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Walukevich-Dienst, K., Zamboanga, B.L., Newins, A.R. et al. Social Anxiety, Drinking Game Motives, and Drinking Game Outcomes Among a Large Multisite Sample of University Students. Cogn Ther Res (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-024-10471-3

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