The Effects of the Outdoor Action Frosh Trip on Freshmen’s Adaptation to Princeton University: A Study of Pluralistic Ignorance

Brian Wardwell
Document Date: 
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Document Source: 
Princeton University Outdoor Action Program

Brian Wardwell

Princeton University

This thesis was submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

April 1999


The purpose of this experiment was to (a) examine incoming freshmen's expectations about Princeton University for self-other discrepancies, and (b) measure the effects of the Outdoor Action Frosh Trip Program in helping freshmen adapt to Princeton. Self-other discrepancies were the focus of this study because pluralistic ignorance research has identified some interesting consequences that arise when individuals misperceive group norms. These consequences include (a) changing one’s behavior to be more in line with the perceived norm even if the behavior was previously viewed as unacceptable and (b) a general sense of alienation from the group. The Outdoor Action Frosh Trip is a pre-registration wilderness orientation trip. Groups of approximately 10 freshmen spend 6 days hiking through the woods with two upper-classmen leaders. The trip helps freshmen adapt to Princeton in two ways. First of all, freshmen are introduced to a new group of friends. Second of all, the discussions on the trip provide an excellent opportunity for the freshmen's misperceptions to be corrected because students are continually talking about their expectations and anxieties. This study showed that the Outdoor Action Frosh Trip helps to correct student’s misperceptions about the alcohol norms on campus and it is speculated that the Trip helps students to fit in better socially.

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