Psychological Reports, 1990, 66, 871-874. O Psychological Reports 1990


Iona College Summary -This research was conducted to study the effects of sex, race, and year in college on self-reported drinking-related problem behaviors. I t was hypothesized that men would report more problem behaviors than women, white students would report more than Hispanic or black students, and an interaction of sex and race would be observed. The study was conducted at a middle-sized eastern college, where 181 students anonymously filled out a 17-item questionnaire. The design was a 3 (race) x 2 (sex) x 2 (year in college) factorial. The hypotheses for sex and race were confumed. Investigation of whether these self-reported drinking-related problem behaviors are congruent with actual behaviors requires study.

The purpose of this work was to investigate the effects of race, sex, and year in school on self-reported, problem-drinking behaviors at a middle-sized eastern college. Alcohol abuse is a broad-based social problem affecting many people in today's society. I t has been reported that there are over 10 million alcoholics in the United States (Woititz, 1983). The risk of incurring negative consequences associated with the acute effects of alcohol seems to be higher in late adolescence and early adulthood than at any other time in life (Penick, Powell, Bingham, Liskow, Miller, & Read, 1987). It has been traditional for college students to consume alcohol. Laws have been passed in all states making the minimum drinking age 21, in part to stem alcohol consumption and drinking-related problem behaviors (Engs & Hanson, 1989). Driving while under the influence of alcohol is one well-known example of a drinking-related problem behavior. The role of alcohol intoxication in auto accidents is widely acknowledged particularly for single auto-vehicle crashes (Brenner & Selzer, 1986). Baustello (1986) reported that drowsiness and impairment of judgment and psychomotor coordination has been observed at blood alcohol levels of 0.07% which is well below the 0.10% blood alcohol level that many states have adopted as the maximum allowable for operation of a motor vehicle. The 1978 President's Commission on Mental Health reported that drivers with blood-alcohol levels of 0.10% or higher are involved in between 35%-59% of highway fatalities (McGee & Wilson, 1984). 'A version of this paper was resented at the 1990 Eastern PsychoIogical Association meeting in !hiladelphia, PA. Requests for reprints should be made to Wesley A. Kayson, Department of Psychology, Iona College, New Rochelle, NY 10801.



I t was hypothesized that men would report more problem behavior than women. Drinking has traditionally been considered more appropriate for men than for women (e.g., Cherry, 1987; Chomak & Collins, 1987). I t was also hypothesized that white students would report more alcohol-related problem behavior than black or Hispanic students. Caetano (1984) and Casteneda and Galanter (1988) found that black and Hispanic students had higher rates of alcohol-abstention than whites. Singer and Perchers (1987) observed that white male students reported using alcohol the most and alcohol was reportedly used less by white women, black men and black women. This suggested in the present study an interaction between sex and race would be found.

METHOD Subjects O n e hundred eighty-one students attending a middle-sized eastern college participated. Fifty-six percent of the students were men, 44% were women, 49% were white, 26% were Hispanic, and 25% were black. All were administered the questionnaire in various liberal arts classes by one of the authors. The students were assured of their anonymity and asked to answer the questions as honestly as possible. Anyone who did not want to participate was asked to sit quietly while the others filled out the q u e s t i o ~ a i r e . Design The design of the research was a 3 (race: Hispanic, black, white) x 2 (sex: women, men) x 2 (year in college: freshman, senior). The dependent variable was number of items dealing with alcohol-related problems by each student reported. The questionnaire was composed of 17 items. The number of students in each group was as follows: female black seniors 12, female black freshmen 10, female Hispanic seniors 14, female Hispanic freshmen 10, female white seniors 11, female white freshmen 22, male black seniors 12, male black freshmen 11, male Hispanic seniors 12, male Hispanic freshmen 11, male white seniors 23, male white freshmen 33. Materials Each student anonymously fllled out a booklet, the first page of which asked them to fill out demographic information asking for their race, sex, and year in college. The second page consisted of the 17-item srudent alcohol questionnaire (Engs & Hanson, 1989). The internal consistency of the questionnaire was .79 (Engs 8r Hanson, 1989). Some of the questions asked whether the srudent had had any problems after drinking (e.g., have you ever had a hangover? Have you ever been criticized by someone you were dating because of your hard drinking? Have you ever thought you might have a problem with your drinking?). Others asked whether they had ever been involved in drinking related problem behavior (e.g., have you ever vomited because of drinking? Have you ever "cut a class" after having several drmks? Have you ever had a fight after drinking?). After the questionnaires were completed and collected, the class was briefly debriefed about the purpose of the experiment.

RESULTS The number of over-all problem behaviors reported was 3.9 out of a possible 17 (SD: 3.1). Sixty-four percent reported having gone to class after having several drinks, 61% reported having vomited because of drinking, 52% reported having had a hangover, and 43% said that they had had a fight after drinking.



A 3 x 2 x 2 factorial analysis of variance was performed on the number of items dealing with alcohol-related problem behaviors reported. The main effect for sex was significant (F,,,,, = 16.52, p

Effects of sex, race and year in college on self-reported drinking-related problem behaviors.

This research was conducted to study the effects of sex, race, and year in college on self-reported drinking-related problem behaviors. It was hypothe...
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