People’s estimates of risky drinking behaviour in New Zealand: 2014/15 ABAS: In Fact

People’s estimates of risky drinking behaviour in …
01 Mar 2016

People’s perceptions of the acceptability and prevalence of risky alcohol consumption may influence their own intentions and behaviour (Rimal & Real, 2005). Among university and college students, social norms are well demonstrated to influence alcohol misuse (Foxcroft et al., 2015; Kypri & Langley, 2003).

The Health Promotion Agency (HPA)’s Attitudes and Behaviour towards Alcohol Survey (ABAS) monitors New Zealanders’ behaviour and attitudes towards alcohol, including questions about social norm perceptions of alcohol consumption. This factsheet reports on people’s estimates of risky drinking behaviour among adults.


Respondents to the 2014/15 Attitudes and Behaviour towards Alcohol Survey (2014/15 ABAS) were asked for their opinion on how many heavy drinkers there are: "Over a month, what percentage of adults would have seven or more drinks on at least one occasion?"

The responses of adults aged 18-years-and-over (n=3,812) were analysed. Responses were first compared by gender, ethnicity and age group (while controlling for the other demographic factors). Statistically significant differences (p<.05) between subgroups are reported in cases where the differences remained significant after accounting for other factors. Secondly, responses were compared by all demographic factors and by risky drinking (defined as having consumed seven or more drinks on an occasion in the past month). If differences were no longer significant after risky drinking was included, this is noted in the text.

Key Results

  • In 2014/15, 71% of adults over-estimated the percentage of New Zealand adults who would have had seven or more alcoholic drinks on a least one occasion over a month.
  • •Females, younger adults, Māori and Pacific adults and those who had participated in risky drinking behaviour gave higher estimates for the proportion of adults who drink to a risky level.
Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018