Alcohol-related and alcohol-free activity participation and enjoyment among college students: A behavioral theories of choice analysis


College student alcohol abuse remains a significant public health problem, and there is a need for theory-driven and empirically based models to guide prevention efforts. Behavioral theories of choice assume that the decision to consume alcohol is influenced by the relative value of alcohol versus other available activities. In the present study, a sample of college student drinkers (N = 108; 56% female, 44% male) who had previously completed a mandatory alcohol intervention completed a measure of alcohol-related and alcohol-free activity participation and enjoyment. The goals of the study were to examine the influence of drinking quantity and contextual variables on activity enjoyment and to identify enjoyable alcohol-free activities that take place on evenings when students might otherwise be drinking. Overall, students found alcohol-related activities more enjoyable than alcohol-free activities, and drinking quantity was positively related to enjoyment. However, alcohol-free activities such as watching movies, going to the theater or museums, going to bars or parties, hanging out with friends, eating at restaurants, and engaging in creative activity were generally as enjoyable as drinking. Alcohol-free activities that included peers or dates were more enjoyable than solitary activities. Men were less likely to engage in alcohol-free activities that included peers and reported less enjoyment related to alcohol-free activities than did women. Further research is required to identify procedures for increasing participation in alcohol-free activities and to determine whether increased alcohol-free activity participation results in decreased alcohol consumption. Copyright 2006 by the American Psychological Association.

Publication Title

Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology