Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Deborah Worley


The purpose of this study was to explore the motivations and behaviors of North

Dakota college students who have chosen to abstain from alcohol. This research contributes to the alcohol abuse prevention field by suggesting a framework to develop programming and recommendations were provided to develop prevention messages to increase the number of student abstainers on college campuses.

The Motivations of Abstaining from Alcohol Questionnaire (MAAQ) (Stritzke 2001) informed scripted questions asked of four focus groups conducted at the

University of North Dakota. The students who participated in the focus groups shared their experiences of choosing not to use alcohol while attending college. I considered their motivations and behaviors after examining their experiences.

The findings suggest that these students are motivated to abstain due to several factors, with parents' influences - both positive and negative - being the main motivator, as well as a desire to live up to high personal expectations and/or act as a role model. In regards to the behaviors of the college student abstainer population, this study found that the college students who abstained from alcohol had social lives similar to those who used alcohol, acted in a manner that reflected their personal responsibilities and self- efficacy, and were judgmental of those who used alcohol. Many participants shared the importance of staying true to themselves and abstaining as a priority in their life.

The specific comments related to these factors are provided and results are compared and contrasted to relevant literature. In order to gain a full understanding of this population situated in its environment, it is suggested that Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) could be a possible conceptual framework. Recommendations for programming and practice on college campuses are offered, as well as possible avenues for further research with and for this population.