Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education and Human Development

Committee Member

Tony Cawthon, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Robin Phelps-Ward

Committee Member

Rachel Wagner

Committee Member

Mark Flynn


High-risk alcohol use on college campuses is associated with several negative consequences for students. Social norms campaigns are a widely used intervention aimed at decreasing high-risk alcohol use in a university population but their efficacy can vary based on students’ peer groups and gender. Research on gendered drinking norms for college students tends to focus on men, as they are usually identified as more likely to drink alcohol overall and to drink in high-risk ways. Additionally, social norms campaigns implemented in a small group setting, which aim to correct misperceptions of students who may not initially identify with norms of the larger college student population, seem to benefit college men more than college women. Therefore, it is important to explore women’s experiences related to college drinking. This study was conducted in order to gain a deeper understanding of undergraduate college women who drink in a high-risk way and their experience of drinking norms as well as their influence on behaviors in order to make future social norms based messages aimed at women more effective. Interviews were conducted with a small sample of college women who participated in high-risk drinking. Data was transcribed and analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Themes emerged around perceptions of women’s drinking, perceptions of men’s drinking, messages received from family and others, rituals and consequences of going out, cues for drinking, and responsibility. Implications for social norms messages were discussed, including avoiding messages that encourage moderation by reinforcing gender stereotypes and creating messages around women’s prosocial protective behaviors. Implications for practice and directions for future research were also discussed.



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