Self-identification as a moderator of the relationship between gambling-related perceived norms and gambling behavior
Foster, Dawn W.
Rodriguez, Lindsey M.
Gonzales, Rubi G.
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This research was designed to evaluate social influences and perceived social norms on gambling behavior among undergraduate students. Furthermore, this research was designed to replicate and extend previous research demonstrating that young adults overestimate the prevalence of gambling among peers, and that the magnitude of overestimation is positively associated with own use (Larimer and Neighbors, Psychol Addict Behav 17:235–243, 2003). We expected that; (1) gambling college students would identify more strongly with other gambling students compared to other students in general; (2) identification with other gambling students would predict gambling behaviors over and above perceived prevalence of gambling; and (3) identification with other gambling students would moderate the association between perceived social norms and gambling behavior. Participants included 1,486 undergraduate students who completed measures assessing gambling quantity and frequency, gambling-related perceived descriptive norms, and identification with groups. Results revealed that perceived norms for gambling were associated with gambling and revealed that students identified more strongly with other students than either gamblers or student gamblers. However, gambling behavior was more strongly associated with identification with gambling students than students in general. There was consistent support for the perspective that social identity moderates the association between perceived norms for gambling and gambling behavior. This research builds on previous examinations of social influences related to gambling and suggests that it may be important to consider the overall prevalence of a given behavior before considering norms-based intervention approaches. Interventions utilizing social norms for gambling may be advised to consider references other than just the typical student.