Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Matthew Reysen

Relational Format



The first semester of college is a formative stage in the lives of young adults. It is a period of transformation and adaptation, and certain experiences may set the tone for the rest of the student's college career. It has long been apparent that a number of problems at the level of secondary education can be traced to the use and, particularly, the abuse of alcohol. Problems with alcohol consumption as one of the contributing factors range from poor grades, emergency room visits, to events such as unwanted sexual advances and in extreme cases, even assaults. In this study, I attempt to find a connection between salient good and bad memories and changes in drinking behavior between the beginning and end of the semester. I asked participants to describe their three best and three worst experiences of the semester, then indicate whether alcohol was involved in each memory. Participants then described the amount and frequency with which they drank at the beginning of the semester and towards the end of the semester. Participants also filled out a short questionnaire and attempted to assess their change over the semester. Comparisons between the proportion of good memories involving alcohol and the proportion of bad memories involving alcohol yielded statistically significant results, suggesting that experiences with alcohol, especially with frequent drinkers, are not unidirectional. Proportion of good memories involving alcohol differed significantly between genders, with men having more good memories while drunk compared to women. Negative experiences did not differ significantly between genders. Men tended to drink more frequently than women, but their drinking trend was actually downward, contrary to what was expected. Unfortunately, the relationship between memories and drinking trend was nearly zero. What this might suggest is that other factors affect drinking trend, or the bi-directionality of experiences for drinkers tend to balance each other out. The significant difference in drinking at the beginning of the semester might actually explain the downward trend for men if we take into account increased academic load, which would cause men to have to reduce their drinking more significantly than women would.

Accessibility Status

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Included in

Psychology Commons



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