Circle of Alcohol Influence: Friends and Family

Project dates: 2009 - 2015

Alcohol consumption has long been a part of human culture and is often associated with transitions to adulthood, celebrated events, and many major rituals. Excessive consumption is causally linked to various health problems as well as anti-social and criminal behaviour. Even moderate consumption has been brought into the spotlight as researchers are finding conflicting results about its effect on health outcomes. Given alcohol’s widely consumed nature and potential for problems, this research sought to investigate various social mechanisms through which alcohol consumption patterns are learnt, taught, and shared.

Firstly, through an honours thesis which examined the role of culture and sibships (sibling relationship dynamics) in alcohol consumption. Using Hofstede’s (2009) five dimensions of culture to operationalise the concept of culture, the focus of this study was to investigate the role of siblings and culture in influencing alcohol consumption. Using a survey and moderation analysis, this research found that high levels of masculinity were strongly associated with alcohol consumption but only for sibships where the siblings were all male.

The PhD thesis titled “Friendship group motives for alcohol consumption: A midstream social marketing approach” explored the role friendship groups have as a collective on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related behaviours. Firstly, through the use of qualitative interviews collective motives for alcohol consumption were identified and detailed; specifically, these were:

  • Competition,
  • Copying,
  • Commitments,
  • Conformity,
  • Winding down,
  • Hedonism, and
  • Confidence.

Three factors that moderated the relationship between motives and consumption were also uncovered: group gender composition, drinking occasion, and levels of social connectedness. A second study was conducted, this quantitative survey’s aim was to quantify and empirically examine the relationship between group level motives and alcohol consumption. Four motives of the group-level motives (copying, conformity, winding down, and hedonism) were significantly related to alcohol consumption and three (competition, commitments, and confidence) were not significantly related. Group-gender composition was found to moderate the relationship between conformity and alcohol motives. With drinking occasion and social connectedness not moderating the relationship between group-level motives and alcohol consumption.


Guiding Theory:

  • Consumer Socialisation
  • Köhler Motivation Gain Effect
  • Collective Intentions

Chief Investigators


  • McAndrew, Ryan J.A. (2015) Friendship group motives for alcohol consumption: A midstream social marketing approach
  • McAndrew, Ryan, Rundle-Thiele, Sharyn, Russell-Bennett, Rebekah (2013) Speaking their language: Examining risky drinking from the customers' point of view. In Brodie, R (Ed.), Proceedings of the 2013 Australia and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference, pp.1-7.
  • McAndrew, Ryan, Russell-Bennett, Rebekah, Rundle-Thiele, Sharyn (2011) Moving beyond the individual: Using group theories to conceptually examine risky drinking. In MacCarthy, M (Ed.), Marketing in the Age of Consumerism: Jekyll or Hyde? Proceedings of the 2011 Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference, pp.1-8.

Online Publications

Russell-Bennett, R., & McAndrew, R. (2017). Hedonism not only leads to binge drinking, it’s part of the solution. The Conversation.