Purpose of Research:
College students are the heaviest drinking demographic group in the United States, and experience a wide range of adverse behavioral and emotional outcomes due to their alcohol use. Although the vast majority of students will subsequently moderate their drinking following college graduation, many may engage in behaviors (e.g., unsafe sexual intercourse, physical aggression, drinking and driving) that can have significant life-long consequences. Our research is focused on understanding the psychological, situational, and environmental factors that lead to such intoxicated risk-taking. By better understanding the underlying mechanisms of risk, we will be in a position to help students reduce the negative consequences associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
What about intervention or prevention research?
We do not conduct intervention research and we have no intention of doing so in the near future. There are several empirically validated interventions for heavy drinking college students, all of which demonstrate small to moderate positive effects. In order to improve these existing interventions, we believe it is necessary to incorporate components that are intended to reduce the risk of adverse negative outcomes. Thus, it is important to understand how, when, and to whom, these outcomes occur. At this time, be believe that it is too early in the research process to empirically examine such intervention components. Therefore, we intend to continue to focus on the underlying processes of alcohol use and related consequences.
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Dan J. Neal, Ph.D.