The role of assessment environment on self-reported alcohol use and perceived group norms: Comparing Web-based surveys to a group setting involving handheld keypads

Justin F. Hummer, Joseph W. LaBrie, Sean P. Grant, Andrew Lac, Phillip J. Ehret

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study examines how self-reporting of alcohol-related perceived group norms and individual attitudes and behaviours varies as a function of assessment environment-an online assessment using electronic surveys completed alone and a live assessment using electronic handheld 'clickers' completed within one's salient reference group. Social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954) is used to help explain the study and interpret results. A total of 657 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I student-athletes (59% female) from two universities completed both the independent online and the in-group assessment using clickers. Results indicate that student-athletes overestimated both drinking and attitudes towards drinking of peers in their specific groups. Student-athletes also responded with higher scores on all measures when assessed live using clickers with other members of their peer group, as opposed to the individual online assessment. Gender moderates the relationship between type of assessment context and all outcome measures, such that the presence of in-group members results in a greater increase in scores for males than females. Findings hold implications for health practitioners interested in understanding how the presence of group members influences self-reported health data and how the use of new technologies contributes to learning in social environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-156
Number of pages10
JournalDrugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 20 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)

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