College alcohol beliefs: Measurement invariance, mean differences, and correlations with alcohol use outcomes across sociodemographic groups.

Undergraduate students who believe that alcohol plays a central role in college life are prone to drink more frequently, in larger quantity, and experience more drinking problems. The College Life Alcohol Salience Scale (CLASS) measures individuals’ college-related alcohol beliefs but has been used predominantly in Euro American and freshman student samples. Emerging research suggests mean differences in college alcohol beliefs by gender and years in college, and measurement nonequivalence across nations. It remains unclear whether the CLASS functions the same way across segments of the U.S. college population, whether students across sociodemographic groups differ in their college alcohol beliefs, and the extent to which these beliefs predict their drinking-related outcomes. This study included 1,148 undergraduates student (Mage = 19.95; 65.0% women; 44.9%, 19.9%, 10.3%, and 16.7% Euro, Asian, African, and Latinx Americans, respectively). Most students lived on campus (69.9%) and were not affiliated with the Greek system (65.7%). Multigroup confirmatory factor analyses supported scalar invariance of the CLASS scores across gender, years in college, and campus residence. Scale data achieved metric invariance and partial scalar invariance for ethnicity and Greek membership status. Associations between college alcohol beliefs and alcohol consumption, and drinking problems, were equivalent across sociodemographic categories, but differences in latent mean scores were found across gender, ethnicity, and Greek affiliations. Clinical utility of the CLASS and implications for considering college alcohol beliefs as a risk factor for hazardous alcohol use are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)