Behaviors that pose threats to safety and health, including binge drinking and unprotected sex, increase during a week-long break from university. Understandings with peers regarding these behaviors may be important for predicting behavior and related harms. College students (N = 651; 48% men) reported having understandings with their friends regarding alcohol use (59%) and sexual behavior (45%) during Spring Break. These understandings were to engage in behaviors characterized by risk (e.g., get drunk [23.5%], have sex with someone new [5.2%]) and protection (e.g., drink without getting drunk [17.8%], use condoms [15.8%]). After controlling for previous semester behavior and going on a Spring Break trip, Get Drunk Understandings predicted a greater likelihood of binge drinking and alcohol-related consequences; No/Safe Sex Understandings predicted condom use; and Sex Understandings predicted not using condoms. Understandings with friends regarding Spring Break behavior may be important proximal predictors of risk behaviors and represent potential targets for event-specific prevention.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Apostolopoulos, Y., Sönmez, S., & Yu, C. H. (2002). HIV-risk behaviours of American spring break vacationers: A case of situational disinhibition? International Journal of STD and AIDS, 13, 733–743.
Bellis, M. A., Hughes, K., Thomson, R., & Bennett, A. (2004). Sexual behaviour of young people in international tourist resorts. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 80, 43–47.
Benton, S. L., Schmidt, J. L., Newton, F. B., Shin, K., Benton, S. A., & Newton, D. W. (2004). College student protective strategies and drinking consequences. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 65, 115–121.
Brown, B. B., Dolcini, M. M., & Leventhal, A. (1997). Transformations in peer relationships at adolescence: Implications for health-related behavior. In J. E. Schulenberg, J. L. Maggs, & K. Hurrelmann (Eds.), Health risks and developmental transitions during adolescence (pp. 161–189). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Brown, B. B., & Larson, J. (2009). Peer relationships in adolescence. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (3rd ed., pp. 74–103). New York: Wiley.
Brown, R. R., & Sinclair, R. C. (1999). Estimating number of lifetime sexual partners: Men and women do it differently. Journal of Sex Research, 36, 292–297.
Bryan, A., Fisher, J. D., & Fisher, W. A. (2002). Tests of the mediational role of preparatory safer sexual behavior in the context of the theory of planned behavior. Health Psychology, 21, 71–80.
Cantor, N., Norem, J., Langston, C., Zirkel, S., Fleeson, W., & Cook-Flannagan, C. (1991). Life tasks and daily life experience. Journal of Personality, 59, 425–451.
Civic, D. (1999). The association between characteristics of dating relationships and condom use among heterosexual young adults. AIDS Education and Prevention, 11, 343–352.
Crawford, M., & Popp, D. (2003). Sexual double standards: A review and methodological critique of two decades of research. Journal of Sex Research, 40, 13–26.
Del Boca, F. K., Darkes, J., Greenbaum, P. E., & Goldman, M. S. (2004). Up close and personal: Temporal variability in the drinking of individual college students during their first year. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 155–164.
Delva, J., Smith, M. P., Howell, R. L., Harrison, D. F., Wilke, D., & Jackson, D. L. (2004). A study of the relationship between protective behaviors and drinking consequences among undergraduate college students. Journal of American College Health, 53, 19–27.
Dorsey, A. M., Scherer, C. W., & Real, K. (1999). The college tradition of “drink ‘til you drop”: The relation between students’ social networks and engaging in risky behaviors. Health Communication, 11, 313–334.
Greenbaum, P. E., Del Boca, F. K., Darkes, J., Wang, C., & Goldman, M. S. (2005). Variation in the drinking trajectories of freshmen college students. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 229–238.
Grekin, E. R., & Sher, K. J. (2006). Alcohol dependence symptoms among college freshmen: Prevalence, stability, and person–environment interactions. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 14, 329–338.
Grekin, E. R., Sher, K. J., & Krull, J. L. (2007). College spring break and alcohol use: Effects of spring break activity. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 68, 681–688.
Harris, K. M., Halpern, C. T., Entzel, P., Tabor, J., Bearman, P. S., & Udry, J. R. (2008). The national longitudinal study of adolescent health: Research design. URL: http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/design.
Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2009). Monitoring the future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2008. Volume I: Secondary school students (NIH Publication No. 09–7402). Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Kiene, S. M., Tennen, H., & Armeli, S. (2008). Today I’ll use a condom, but who knows about tomorrow: A daily process study of variability in predictors of condom use. Health Psychology, 27, 463–472.
Larimer, M. E., Lee, C. M., Kilmer, J. R., Fabiano, P. M., Stark, C. B., Geisner, I. M., et al. (2007). Personalized mailed feedback for college drinking prevention: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75, 285–293.
Lee, C. M., Lewis, M. A., & Neighbors, C. (2009). Preliminary examination of spring break alcohol use and related consequences. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 23, 689–694.
Lee, C. M., Maggs, J. L., & Rankin, L. A. (2006). Spring break trips as a risk factor for heavy alcohol use among first-year college students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 67, 911–916.
Lefkowitz, E. S. (2005). “Things have gotten better”: Developmental changes among emerging adults after the transition to university. Journal of Adolescent Research, 20, 40–63.
Lefkowitz, E. S., & Gillen, M. M. (2005). “Sex is just a normal part of life”: Sexuality in emerging adulthood. In J. J. Arnett & J. L. Tanner (Eds.), Emerging adults in America: Coming of age in the 21st century (pp. 235–255). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Martens, M. P., Ferrier, A. G., Sheehy, M. J., Corbett, K., Anderson, D. A., & Simmons, A. (2005). Development of the protective behavioral strategies survey. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 66, 698–705.
Maticka-Tyndale, E., & Herold, E. S. (1997). The scripting of sexual behaviour: Canadian university students on Spring Break in Florida. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 6, 317–328.
Maticka-Tyndale, E., & Herold, E. S. (1999). Condom use on Spring-Break vacation: The influence of intentions, prior use, and context. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29, 1010–1027.
Maticka-Tyndale, E., Herold, E. S., & Mewhinney, D. (1998). Casual sex on spring break: Intentions and behaviors of Canadian students. The Journal of Sex Research, 35, 254–264.
McCabe, S. E., Schulenberg, J. E., Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Kloska, D. D. (2005). Selection and socialization effects of fraternities and sororities on US college student substance use: A multi-cohort national longitudinal study. Addiction, 100, 512–524.
Mewhinney, D. M., Herold, E. S., & Maticka-Tyndale, E. (1995). Sexual scripts and risk-taking of Canadian university students on Spring Break in Daytona Beach, Florida. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 4, 273–288.
Neal, D. J., & Fromme, K. (2007). Hook em horns and heavy drinking: Alcohol use and collegiate sports. Addictive Behaviors, 32, 2681–2693.
Neighbors, C., Walters, S. T., Lee, C. M., Vader, A. M., Vehige, T., Szigethy, T., et al. (2007). Event-specific prevention: Addressing college student drinking during known windows of risk. Addictive Behaviors, 32, 2667–2680.
NIAAA. (2003). Task force on recommended alcohol questions: National Council on alcohol abuse and alcoholism recommended sets of alcohol consumption questions. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/Resources/ResearchResources/TaskForce.htm.
Park, A., Sher, K. J., & Krull, J. L. (2008). Risky drinking in college changes as fraternity/sorority affiliation changes: A person-environment perspective. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 22, 219–229.
Park, A., Sher, K. J., Wood, P. K., & Krull, J. L. (2009). Dual mechanisms underlying accentuation of risky drinking via fraternity/sorority affiliation: The role of personality, peer norms, and alcohol availability. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118, 241–255.
Patrick, M. E., & Maggs, J. L. (2009). Does drinking lead to sex? Daily alcohol-sex behaviors and expectancies among college students. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 23, 472–481.
Patrick, M. E., Maggs, J. L., & Abar, C. C. (2007). Reasons to have sex, personal goals, and sexual behavior during the transition to college. Journal of Sex Research, 44, 240–249.
Rhoades, B. L., & Maggs, J. L. (2006). Do academic and social goals predict planned alcohol use among college-bound high school graduates? Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35, 913–923.
Rogstad, K. E. (2004). Sex, sun, sea, and STIs: Sexually transmitted infections acquired on holiday. British Medical Journal, 329, 4–7.
Rutledge, P. C., Park, A., & Sher, K. J. (2008). 21st birthday drinking: Extremely extreme. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76, 511–516.
Salmela-Aro, K., Aunola, K., & Nurmi, J. (2007). Personal goals during emerging adulthood: A 10-year follow up. Journal of Adolescent Research, 22, 690–715.
Salmela-Aro, K., & Nurmi, J. (1997). Goal contents, well-being, and life context during transition to university: A longitudinal study. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 20, 471–491.
Scholly, K., Katz, A. R., Gascoigne, J., & Holck, P. S. (2005). Using social norms theory to explain perceptions and sexual health behaviors of undergraduate college students: An exploratory study. Journal of American College Health, 53, 159–166.
Schwartz, R. H., Milteer, R., Sheridan, M. H., & Horner, C. P. (1999). Beach week: A high school graduation rite of passage for sun, sand, suds, and sex. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 153, 180–183.
Scott-Sheldon, L. A. J., Carey, K. B., & Carey, M. P. (2008). Health behavior and college students: Does Greek affiliation matter? Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 31, 61–70.
Smeaton, G. L., Josiam, B. M., & Dietrich, U. C. (1998). College students’ binge drinking at a beach-front destination during spring break. Journal of American College Health, 46, 247–254.
Sönmez, S., Apostolopoulos, Y., Yu, C. H., Yang, S., Mattila, A., & Yu, L. C. (2006). Binge drinking and casual sex on spring break. Annals of Tourism Research, 33, 895–917.
Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. S. (2001). Adolescent development. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 83–110.
Wechsler, H., Dowdall, G. W., Davenport, A., & Rimm, E. B. (1995). A gender-specific measure of binge drinking among college students. American Journal of Public Health, 85, 982–985.
Wilsnack, S. C., & Wilsnack, R. W. (2002). International gender and alcohol research: Recent findings and future directions. Alcohol Research & Health, 26, 245–250.
Acknowledgments and Disclosures
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported data collection for the University Life Study and manuscript preparation with a grant to J. Maggs (R01 AA016016), and manuscript preparation with a grant to M. Patrick (F32 AA017806). The content here is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the sponsors.
About this article
Cite this article
Patrick, M.E., Morgan, N., Maggs, J.L. et al. “I Got Your Back”: Friends’ Understandings Regarding College Student Spring Break Behavior. J Youth Adolescence 40, 108–120 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-010-9515-8