Drinking among friends: The role of personality in links between online exposure to peer drinking and adolescent alcohol use


The roles of conscientiousness and excitement seeking were investigated in the relationship between exposure to peer alcohol use online and adolescent alcohol consumption. It was hypothesized that higher levels of perceived peer alcohol use online would be associated with reports of higher adolescent alcohol consumption. Additionally, it was proposed that the relationship between perceived levels of peer alcohol use online and individual alcohol consumption would be stronger for adolescents lower in conscientiousness, and higher in excitement seeking, than it was in more conscientious, and less excitement-seeking students. Control variables included gender, pubertal timing, frequency of social networking site use, social networking site investment, and in-person peer alcohol norms. Data were collected through a cross-sectional survey from a sample of 1,018 students (M = 16.45 years old, SD = 0.32 years). Higher levels of in-person peer drinking norms and social networking site alcohol exposure were associated with higher adolescent drinking. Furthermore, excitement seeking significantly moderated the relationship between social networking site alcohol exposure and alcohol use. Participants reporting higher excitement seeking appeared more susceptible to online alcohol exposure than those reporting lower excitement seeking. The current study contributes to understandings of adolescent drinking by demonstrating personality differences in adolescent susceptibility to online alcohol consumption norms.

Bibliographic citation

Scott, R. A., & Barber, B. L. (2020). Drinking among friends: The role of personality in links between online exposure to peer drinking and adolescent alcohol use. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 14(4), Article 5. doi:https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2020-4-5


Adolescence; alcohol use; personality; social media; social networking sites

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