The influence of peers on fraternity behaviors : the role of social norming and masculinity
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College drinking has been identified as one of the most serious problems on college campuses, and Greek organizations, specifically fraternities, are often identified as groups with particularly excessive alcohol use (O'Brien, McNamara, McCoy, Sutfin, Wolfson and Rhodes, 2013). The peer influence of brothers in fraternities has been identified as the greatest influence on drinking behaviors for members of those organizations (Borsari and Carey, 2003). Shaped by assumptions about what it means to be masculine boys and men will conform to the expectations of their peers by engaging in behaviors and expressing attitudes that are actually contradictory to what they truly believe in order to be accepted (Pollack, 2000). Thus, better understanding of how social norms play a role in a fraternity member's drinking behaviors is important for universities, prevention specialists, and student affairs practitioners in order to address excessive and binge drinking. The theoretical frameworks used throughout this study are theories of social norms and masculinities and allowed for the examination the role peers play in influencing drinking behaviors of fraternity men at a large, public institution in the Midwest (The University of Missouri or Mizzou). A qualitative case study methodology was employed to collect data from participants via a focus group and individual follow up interviews. From this, four overarching themes developed: (1) to be a brother, (2) competition, (3) liquid bonding, and (4) what it means to be a man. Within the context of the study, implications for practice and recommendations for additional research are included.
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