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Dental and medical student perceptions of alcohol as part of university life: an investigation using Q-methodology

Yule, Rebecca Louise (2014) Dental and medical student perceptions of alcohol as part of university life: an investigation using Q-methodology. D.Clin.Psychol thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Background: Research has shown that University students’ alcohol consumption and drinking behaviour is influenced by their perceptions of ‘the norm’; but that these perceptions are often inaccurate. Social norm interventions correct misperceptions of the norm by displaying messages regarding the actual reported norm within the campus environment, thus eliminating the pressure for students to fit an inaccurately perceived norm. Research has shown mixed outcomes for these interventions. Previous research has mostly been quantitative and norms focused upon a limited number of simple, distinct, beliefs about drinking. It is likely that the normative perceptions are more complex. Aims: 1) To identify the beliefs held by students regarding alcohol and university life 2) To explore how these beliefs link together to form normative perceptions 3) To explore how normative perceptions cluster together and hence how norms are conceptualised by students. Method: Q-methodology was used due to its ability to identify a range of subjective viewpoints on a socially debated topic. Sample: 205 medical and dental students within years one, three and five completed an online survey outlining their demographic information and alcohol consumption. From the respondents 31 participants were recruited to the Q-sort interview. Results: Four distinct viewpoints were identified: 1. Most students drink and do so to fit in at university 2. Alcohol is not important at university and most students that drink, drink sensibly 3. Most students drink excessively and are irresponsible when drunk 4. Most students enjoy drinking and do it for fun Discussion: Results demonstrated that normative perceptions consist of beliefs regarding alcohol consumption, drinking behaviours, reasons for student drinking and a perceived evaluation of this behaviour by other students. Norms can be conceptualised according to the meaning given to student drinking i.e. to fit in, for social status or for enjoyment. The findings demonstrate the complexity and multiplicity of normative beliefs held by students regarding alcohol and university life and should inform future social norms research and interventions.

Item Type: Thesis (D.Clin.Psychol)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds) > Institute of Health Sciences (Leeds) > Academic Unit of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds) > School of Medicine (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.635394
Depositing User: Leeds CMS
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2015 15:18
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2015 13:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8073

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