Skip to main content

The Real Experiences and Lives of University students (REAL-U) project began at UNC-CH in 2014 to examine social relationships and behaviors that make up the lives of college students. Participants in the study came to the lab and completed a survey and two weeks later returned to complete a similar survey, engage in a lab task in which they estimated pours for various alcoholic drinks, and were invited to share their text messages for the prior to two weeks. We have maintained strict privacy standards to keep all data confidential. And research since this time has largely focused on methodological advances in how we analyze survey data in new ways and in learning about text messaging behaviors.

Since that time, we have conducted a similar survey study in South Korea to compare social media usage and health outcomes in students across the two countries. We have expanded the REAL-U protocol to include friendship pairs to better understand how college friends’ view one another’s behaviors and how this relates to their relationships. And we have launched parallel studies of text messaging and health behaviors with partners at UNC-G.

What we have yet to understand is how text messaging behavior can help us understand private online interactions as a predictor of future social and health outcomes. To do that, we are now asking people who participated in the original REAL-U study to complete an online survey. Participation involves completing a 40 minute online survey and we will send you a $30 Amazon gift certificate in appreciation. The ability of this study to be helpful to students rests on a high rate of participation – if you are a REAL-U study alum, we are grateful for your support!

For questions about the study contact us!  Email:  or Phone:  919-307-6108
IRB approval #: 20-3552

Dr. Andrea Hussong (Study PI)