Risky Behaviors

College is a time where various students like to try new things. Whether it be exploring their sexuality, doing drugs, drinking alcohol, etc., students at universities are susceptible to fall into peer pressure when exploring the different facets that living by oneself has to offer. When delving into the topic of risky behaviors, I decided to research three main topics further in depth: alcohol consumption, unprotected sex, and illegal drug use. The three topics stated prior are ones that are of major concern amongst a college environment.

Alcohol consumption is commonly seen amongst underclassman who experience blackouts, amongst other things, as an effect of binge drinking. This state of unconsciousness leads to negative consequences both in an academic realm and interpersonally. In addition, the social pressures that come with going out and the common mentality that, one will only have fun if they drink, is directly correlated to experiencing alcohol dependence shortly after.

Correlated, but not limited, to alcohol consumption and drug use is having unprotected sex. As a result of the following, one is highly receptive to having anxiety, obtaining an STI, or getting pregnant. In regards to the following, unprotected sex commonly occurs at campus events, off-campus parties, or when drinking or getting high in dormitories; this is due to the fact that hookups or having casual sex in college is becoming increasingly popular . Henceforth, it is indicative that, regardless of a particular setting or state of mind, one is often exposed to being an easy target when it comes to having unprotected sex whilst attending a university.

In a similar fashion, attending a university puts one at risk of being offered or becoming a user of illegal drugs. An example would include marijuana, which is commonly used for recreational purposes in the state of Florida although it is currently illegal to do so. Non-medical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD) amongst college students is linked to a myriad of negative psychological, academic, and physical effects. Examples of the following would include: mild depression, a lower GPA, and not being able to sleep well. As stated prior, one is inclined to having unprotected or unplanned sex when high or intoxicated. With this in mind, it is almost certain that one will have regretted sex or will participate in a negative sexual event due to their altered state of mind.

Exploring the topics above more in depth, three studies were researched to gain further insight on the subjects at hand.


Participants for Romantic relationships, college student alcohol use, and negative consequences of drinking Pedersen, Daphne. Social Science Journal Volume: 55 Issue 2 (2018)

The study took place in a university located in the upper Midwest whose student body comprises of 15,000 enrollees. Regarding demographics, 79% of the student body were White, 2.82% were Hispanic, 2.30% were Black/African American, and 2.71% stated otherwise. The way the survey was distributed goes as follows: a list of all the 2015 Spring courses the University had to offer was pulled up, the courses were sorted by the designated department, the course was then listed alphabetically, and, finally, every tenth course was chosen to distribute the survey to. As a result of the following, 124 instructors received an email with instructions to distribute the survey via blackboard or email to their students (no incentive, nor was it a requirement, was given to participate in the study). Nevertheless, although an approximate 4,851 students should have been made aware of the study, only 575 participated in it over the span of the month that the questionnaire was open.

Assessments and Measures

The questions within the survey were based off of two criterias: drinking behaviors and negative consequences experienced when drinking. For instance, in concern to drinking behaviors, a question that was asked in the study by Pedersen and Pithey was, how many days did you drink enough to feel drunk (drunk meaning unsteady, dizzy, or sick to your stomach) (2018). In a like manner, the study poses the question, since the beginning of the school year, how often has your drinking caused you to: (a) have a hangover, (b) miss a class,etc., when addressing negative consequences experienced when drinking.

Participants for Discounting of Condom-Protected Sex as a Measure of High Risk for Sexually Transmitted Infection Among College Students Collado, A., Johnson, P.S., Loya, J.M. et al. Arch Sex Behav (2017)

Chosen by the Psychology department to receive online credit, 262 participants took part in this study at a large Mid-Atlantic public university. The requirements included being: 18 years of age or older, fluent in English, and willingly answering questions pertaining to one’s sexual activity history.

Assessments and Measures

There were 4 components when assessing this study:

The first component is known as the Sexual Delay Discounting Task (SDDT; Johnson & Bruner, 2012). The following is used as a visual assessment which includes presenting photographs to participants (30 females and 30 males) in order to create a hypothetical situation when determining how or when one is more susceptible to have unprotected sex. From the subset of photographs, one would label it, for instance, as: Most Want Sex or Least Likely STI, etc..

The second component is known as the CDC Sexual Behavior Questionnaire (CSBQ; CDC, 2011). The following is a survey which asks the participants how frequently have they engaged in either oral, vaginal, or anal sex within the previous six months. In addition to the following, participants were asked if they engaged in sexual activity with partners who may be at a higher risk to contract an STI.

The third component is known as the Brief HIV Knowledge Questionnaire (Carey & Schroder, 2002). The following comprises of eighteen questions about HIV and determines one’s knowledge pertaining to the following. When answering, one can answer: true, false, or unknown.

The final component is known as the STI Risk Perception modeled from Hampson, Severson, Burns, Slovic & Fisher’s (2001) scale. The following consisted of having the participants state how risky they perceive unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex to be. The scores would range from 3-30 points with unprotected oral sex counting as one point and vaginal or anal sex counting as two points.

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