A multi-disciplinary multi-method study of young people's outgoing and drinking behaviors

Background: Alcohol consumption is the number one risk factor for morbidity and mortality among young people. Heavy drinking incidents and related problems in public on Friday and Saturday nights have recently become a concern for policy makers, city councils and the general public. While alcohol epidemiology and human geography have provided initial evidence on the phenomenon of young people's going out and drinking behaviors at night, ubiquitous computing enables smartphones to provide mobility and social data in the urban sphere on an unprecedented scale. Using multiple methods in the proposed project, close collaboration of the three disciplines will provide unique insights into this complex phenomenon. Objectives and goals: The study has three broad objectives (i.e. to develop a smartphone data collection tool, to study the role of drinking and environmental and situational factors, and to investigate the urban structure, mobility patterns and young people's nightlife experiences). This will lead to the accomplishment of ten research goals: (1) design, build, and test a cell phone application that allows the study of alcohol use on Friday and Saturday nights, (2) measure the volume of alcohol consumed and the degree of inebriation throughout the course of the evening, (3) develop computational methods for automatic beverage recognition, (4) explore user experience (user-friendliness, possible intrusiveness, degree of response burden, etc.) of the data collection, (5) assess the impact of crowding, luminosity and noise levels on amounts of alcohol consumed in a given situation, (6) automatically characterize the ambiance of drinking venues, (7) reconstruct the role of drinking venues and their interrelations with drinking practices and experiences during nights out, (8) investigate the role of urban structure in shaping drinking habits, (9) investigate the impact of single and multiple location drinking on the amount of alcohol consumed throughout the course of the evening and related consequences, and (10) reconstruct the experiences and views of those on a night out and how they are impacted by those who manage nightlife areas. Methods and data to be collected: In Zurich and Lausanne, a sample of 200 16 to 25-year-olds will be recruited at popular nightlife locations on Friday and Saturday evenings. Data will be collected by means of an Internet baseline questionnaire, the customized App to be installed on participants' cell phones, and semi-structured interviews with 40 of the 200 participants.

Expected value: The pooling of knowledge and experience in alcohol epidemiology, ubiquitous computing and human geography that will combine self-reported data with information gathered by cell phone sensors and a specially developed automatic beverage recognition algorithm, and via qualitative interviews, will result in unique and unprecedented evidence and in-depth insights into the many research gaps regarding young people's going out and drinking behavior on Friday and Saturday evenings. In addition, making the customized sensing App freely available will stimulate further research by lowering technological entry barriers. Moreover, a half-day workshop for experts in urban nightlife management, scientific conference contributions and at least 10 peer-reviewed publications will ensure knowledge transfer and dissemination.

Social and Human Behavior
Idiap Research Institute, University of Zurich
Swiss National Science Foundation
Jan 01, 2014
Dec 31, 2017