Methods: Participants were 527 students at a public university in the Midwest (M age = 19.67, SD = 1.839). The College Peer Crowd Questionnaire (CPCQ, Hopmeyer & Medovoy, 2017) was used to assess college students’ self-reported crowd affiliations. Factor analysis of the scores on the 16 peer crowds revealed four peer crowd dimensions: Counterculture (behaviorally deviant lifestyles); Athletic/Social (sports and social aspects of campus life); Arts/Ethnic (students identifying strongly with their race/ethnic groups and/or performing arts); and Scholastic (academic achievement and leadership). A 15-item adapted version of the Reckless Behavior Questionnaire (RBQ, Teese & Bradley, 2008) was used to assess participants’ risky academic, sexual, drug, and alcohol-related behaviors. Prosocial behavior was measured with the Prosociality Scale (PS, Caprara, Steca, Zelli, & Capanna, 2005) and the Primary Prevention Awareness, Attitudes, and Usage Scale (PPAAUS, Swisher, Shute, & Bibeau, 1985).
Results: Counterculture affiliation positively predicted academic, sexual, drug, and alcohol risks. Athletic/Social affiliation positively predicted sex and alcohol risks. Arts/Ethnic affiliation negatively predicted sex, drug, and alcohol risks. Scholastic affiliation negatively predicted drug and alcohol risks. Arts/Ethnic and Scholastic affiliations positively predicted prosocial behaviors (all p’s < .05). Finally, gender did not moderate any of the associations of peer crowd dimensions with risky behaviors, but did significantly moderate the relation between peer crowd affiliations and prosociality. For men, stronger affiliations with the Counterculture or Scholastic crowds were associated with greater prosociality, whereas for women, these associations were weaker.
Conclusions: These findings reinforce the importance of understanding college peer crowds to target negative behaviors and promote positive behaviors associated with specific peer crowds. College personnel will be able to better tailor their prevention efforts by understanding the different peer crowds found on campus.