Responsible Drinking Attitude Levels and Students` Involvement in Social Organizations
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
ROOKS, L.M. (1998). Responsible Drinking Attitude Levels and Students` Involvement in Social Organizations. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 1. Available online at Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

Responsible Drinking Attitude Levels and Students` Involvement in Social Organizations
Missouri Western State University Department of Psychology

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (
Alcohol use and abuse on college campuses has been a growing concern for researchers and clinicians for many years now. Several researchers have begun examining relationships among students` drinking patterns and problems consequent to alcohol use. This study measured drinking attitudes of 87 Missouri Western State College students using the College Drinking Attitude Scale (Gonzalez, 1990) as the measuring device and examined the relationship between alcohol attitudes and student`s involvement in various social organizations found on campus. Results indicated that students involved in religious organizations had higher scores on the CDAS, while students not involved in religious organizations had lower scores. Results also indicated that the higher the student`s GPA, the higher the score on the CDAS. Further research is necessary to determine other factors related to college students` drinking practices.

Alcohol use and abuse on college campuses has been a concern of clinicians and researchers for many years now (Berkowitz & Perkins, 1986; Engs, 1977 as cited in Williams & Morrice, 1992). Researchers (Brown, Goldman, Inn, & Anderson, 1980; Engs, 1977; Haack & Harford, 1984 as cited in Williams & Morrice, 1992) have begun to examine relationships among students` drinking patterns and problems consequent to alcohol use.

It has been found by several researchers (Banks & Smith, 1980; Mills & McCarty, 1983; Ratliff & Burkhart, 1984 as cited in Klein, 1992) that students with the most positive attitudes toward drinking are typically the heaviest drinkers. Only a few authors (Kleinke & Hinrichs, 1983; Kwakman, Zuiker, Schippers, & deWuffel, 1988 as cited in Klein, 1992) have reported findings for specific attitudes toward drinking.

Research indicates that young people consider it acceptable to drink to "get by" in their social world. Alcohol is perceived as an effective mechanism for enhancing sociability (especially at parties) and for helping young people feel like they are in control of a situation (Klein, 1992).

Early and contemporary theorizing about college drinking is still unclear as to whether the quantity, frequency or problems associated with drinking either replicates the patterns established by the student`s gender, religion, parental social class and other demographics variables (Engs & Hanson, 1985; Friedman & Humphrey, 1985l Kyzam 1990; O`Hare, 1990; Straus & Bacon, 1953 as cited in Rabow & Duncan-Schill, 1995), or is a response to a distinctive college culture (Gusfield, 1961; Harford, Wechsler & Rohman, 1983 as cited in Rabow & Duncan-Schill, 1995).

The evidence for the impact of a "college culture" is both direct and indirect. The indirect evidence has made comparisons of college students that focus on campus residence or commuters (Klein, 1990; Looney, 1976; O`Hare, 1990; Saltz & Elandt, 1986 as cited in Rabow & Duncan-Schill, 1995). The direct evidence for the influence of a college culture started with the Gusfield study in 1961 and has continued with work that focuses on membership and participation in fraternities and sororities ( Gellar & Kalsher, 1990; Hayworth-Heoppner, Globetti, Stem & Morasco, 1989; Rouse & Ewing, 1978 as cited in Rabow & Duncan-Schill, 1995).

The use of diaries and logs is a well-established tradition in alcohol research (Argeriou, 1975; Felson, 1981; Harford, Gerstel, Paulter & Hoban, 1980; Kraft, 191; Orcutt & Harvey, 1991; Rabow & Newmann, 1984 as cited in Rabow & Duncan-Schill, 1995). Rabow and Duncan-Schill (1995) added new dimensions to the "Daily Log" form of data collection by asking students to indicate the social circumstances surrounding each drinking occasion, as well as their personal reflections, thoughts, feelings and motivations for drinking. Seventy-six students turned in completed logs; the logs were then analyzed for themes. Four major categories were developed that reflected students` comments: (1) ideas, beliefs and patterns of alcohol consumption are socially defined and enforced on the college campus; (2) drinking peaks on the weekends and subsides during the middle of the week in order to balance consumption with student`s concerns over academics; (3) alcohol was not found to be used as a mechanism to deal with anxieties, but rather to allow one to "loosen up" and to "relax", and (4) alcohol was used as a means of celebration and as an expression of group solidarity.

Klein (1992) investigated the relationship between beliefs about drinking and alcohol use and abuse among a random sample of college students at a mid-sized, private, Midwestern university. Overall, results indicated that the students agreed with the statements regarding responsible drinking. But when the effects of various intervening variables were assessed, men, fraternity and sorority members, and students living in fraternity houses were much more likely than their peers to endorse less-than responsible ideals about the use of alcoholic beverages.

While drinking is evidenced at just about all social gatherings, it is especially evident within the Greek System. Gusfield (1961), as cited in Rabow & Duncan-Schill, 1995) found in his study that a definite set of norms support drinking found in the "culture of fraternity life". It is important to realize that the idea that norms governing alcohol consumption exist not only among the "Greeks", but also with other campus groups as well. Alcohol is invariably linked with bringing students together on and off campus (Rabow & Duncan-Schill, 1995).

Lichtenfeld and Kayson (1994) compared nonmembers of a Greek organization and members of fraternities and sororities. They found fraternity and sorority members had a higher incidence of alcohol-related problem behaviors. Members of fraternities were found to have the highest rates for perceived weekly drinking by self and close friends, members of sororities the second highest, and people who are not members the lowest.

The purpose of this project is to compare members of Greek organizations with non-members and compare their attitudes towards alcohol consumption. It is predicted that members of Greek organizations will have a higher level of irresponsible drinking attitudes than non-members.



Participants in this study were students currently enrolled at Missouri Western State College, a mid-sized college in the Northwest region of Missouri. A survey was administered to various classes at MWSC. Total number of subjects was 87; thirteen subjects were male and 68 subjects were female. The subjects that completed the survey received extra credit in the class that it was completed in. There was no attempt to control various demographical variables (age, sex, race, etc.). For the purposes of this project, the widest variety of students was needed.

The College Drinking Attitude Scale (Gonzalez, 1990) was used to measure responsible attitudes toward the use of alcohol. The CDAS consists of 15 items indicating responsible drinking behavior and attitudes and five items indicating irresponsible drinking behavior and attitudes. Each item has five possible responses on a Likert-type scale, where 1 indicates Very Unlikely and 5 indicates Very Likely. For this project`s use, some additions have been made to the original scale. Participants were asked to identify their sex, age, education level, GPA range, and organization affiliation. (See Appendix.)

The administrator of the test informed students that the primary goal of the research project was to identify drinking patterns among social organizations at Missouri Western State College. Participants were told that their participation was not required. However, extra credit was given to those students that completed the questionnaire. Participants were told that their responses would be completely anonymous; there were no identifying questions on the questionnaire. Participants were asked to carefully read the instructions given at the top of the questionnaire and were given a verbal reminder by the administrator that 1=Very Unlikely and 5=Very Likely. Participants were asked to give a response with a possible rating of 1 through 5; they were asked to keep in mind that their answers should reflect their own personal beliefs. Upon completion of the questionnaire, participants were asked to bring their questionnaire to the front of the room and place it face down on the table.


Independent t-test scores were calculated to compare the drinking responsibility scores and whether or not the subject was involved in given social organizations. An independent t-test was also calculated to compare the drinking responsibility scores and the sex of the subjects. Involvement in religious organizations had a significant t-test score (t(85)= -1.753, p=.083). This indicates that students involved in religious organizations tend to have more responsible attitudes toward drinking than students involved in any of the other given organizations. A significant t-test score for the sex of the subjects was also found (t(84)= -1.886, p=.063). This score indicates that the subject`s sex affects their drinking responsibility score. Females` average responsibility score was 82.1618, while males` average responsibility score was 76.6667; highest possible score was 100 and the lowest possible score was 20. There were no other significant t-test scores. Fraternity and sorority involvement (t(85)=.481, p=.632); Academic organizations (t(84)= -.251, p=.802); Athletics (t(85)=1.294, p=1.99); Other organizations (t(85)= -.085, p=.933); Performance organizations (t(85)= -.085, p=.933); and Special Interests organizations (t(85)= -.925, p=.358).

A One-way ANOVA was used to compare drinking responsibility scores and each of the following: education level, age, and GPA. A significant result occurred only with the comparison of GPA and responsibility scores (F(2, 84)=4.386, p=.015). Results indicate that the higher the student`s GPA, the higher their drinking responsibility score was. Results for education level (F(4,82)=1.207, p=.314) and age (F(4, 82)=1.313, p=.272) were not of significant value.


The results of this study did not support the proposed predictions of the researcher. Students involved in Greek organizations were proposed to have lower drinking responsibility scores than non-members. However, the results indicated that this is not the case at Missouri Western State College. In fact, members of fraternities and sororities, as one group, do not appear to be any different than non-members; members and non-members scored very similar scores on the College Drinking Attitude Scale.

This finding was surprising when compared with past research. For example, Gusfield (1961) found that high levels of drinking were evident within the Greek system. He found in his study that a definite set of norms supported drinking found in the "culture of fraternity life". However, as the results of my study indicate, he was quick to point out that the idea of norms governing alcohol consumption do not soley exist among the "Greeks".

Lichtenfeld and Kayson (1994) also compared non-members and members of Greek organizations. They found fraternity and sorority members had a higher incidence of alcohol-related problem behaviors.

There were some obvious limitations of this study. First, there were not enough subjects (N=87). A greater number of subjects would have allowed for better comparisons and conclusions to be made. For example, only 13 of the 87 subjects were members of fraternities or sororities. Also, there were only 18 males, while there were 68 females.

Another limitation was time. The administration of the survey took a lot more time than was set aside. Some of the subjects may have rushed to complete the survey in the time given and this may have been harmful to the results.

Some of the subjects talked and compared answers during the administration of the survey. This also may have been harmful to the results due to the fact that people who knew each other tended to compare answers and rate the questions in the same way.

Some of the subjects wrote comments on the surveys; they felt that the survey was unfair to non-drinkers. This may also have been harmful to the result due to the fact that some of the subjects were hypothetically rating the questions on the survey.

Although there were some limitations to this project, I feel that the results could be generalized to other college samples. However, this study would need to be carried out several more times before this could be certain. All colleges and universities have social organizations, some the same and some different. Therefore, some alterations would need to be done to the survey to account for those organizations that the particular school may or may not have.

With the growing number of deaths among college students due to alcohol use and abuse, I feel that research in the area of alcohol abuse among college students is highly important and necessary. Future research should not only center on which students are drinking but why they are drinking. Perhaps with this information, programs could be implemented to lower alcohol abuse on college campuses and put an end to useless deaths among young people.


Gonzalez, G.M. (1990). College Drinking Attitude Scale: A tool for alcohol education program assessment. International Journal of the Addictions, 25, 1268-1270.

Klein, H. (1992). College students` attitudes toward the use of alcoholic beverages. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 37, 35-52.

Lichtenfeld, M., & Kayson, W.A. (1994). Factors in college students` drinking. Psychological Reports, 74, 927-930.

Rabow, J., & Duncan-Schill, M. (1995). Drinking among college students. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 40, 52-64.

Williams, J.G., & Morrice, A. (1992). Measuring drinking patterns among college students. Psychological Reports, 70, 231-238.



Please answer each of the following statements based on your own beliefs and attitudes where 1=Very Unlikely and 5=Very Likely.

How likely are you to:

Always use alcohol as an addition to an activity rather than as the primary focus of attention

1 2 3 4 5

Rationalize drinking by such comments as "I just need one more to relax" or

"How about one for the road."

1 2 3 4 5

Provide non-alcoholic alternative drinks; fruit juices, unspiked punch, coffee, or tea at your party.

1 2 3 4 5

Set limits on how many drinks you`re

going to have on a night out or at a party.

1 2 3 4 5

Gulp drinks for the stronger and faster effect.

1 2 3 4 5

Respect a person who chooses to abstain from alcohol.

1 2 3 4 5

Drink alone from a desire to escape boredom or loneliness.

1 2 3 4 5

Tell a friend that there is nothing funny about being drunk when he or she is bragging about drinking.

1 2 3 4 5

Seriously think about the problems of alcohol abuse.

1 2 3 4 5

Talk about how to use alcohol responsibly with your roommate or close friend.

1 2 3 4 5

Express displeasure to someone who has had too much to drink at your party.

1 2 3 4 5

Provide transportation or overnight accommodations to someone who is unable to drive safely after drinking at your party.

1 2 3 4 5

Always celebrate by drinking when things go well for you.

1 2 3 4 5

Provide food when you`re hosting a party or social event where alcohol is being served.

1 2 3 4 5

Discourage a date or friend who is under the influence of alcohol from driving.

1 2 3 4 5

Get involved in trying to help a friend or associate who has a drinking problem.

1 2 3 4 5

Drink alcohol primarily to get drunk.

1 2 3 4 5

Know and stay within your personal drinking limit based on body weight if you are going to drive.

1 2 3 4 5

Not be insistent about "refreshing" or refilling drinks.

1 2 3 4 5

Seek help is you thought you had a drinking problem.

1 2 3 4 5

What is your sex? Male Female

What is your age range?

18-20 21-25 26-30 31+

What is your education level?

Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior

What is your GPA?

Less than 2.0 2.0-3.0 3.0-4.0

Do you belong to any clubs or organizations at MWSC? If so, please check all that apply to you.


____Academic/Honors Groups (Examples: Alpha Chi, Psychology Club, Psi Chi, Biology Club, etc.)

____Religious Groups (Examples: Baptist Student Union, Wesley Foundation, etc.)

____Special Interests Groups (Examples: SADD, The Ebony Collegians, Non-Traditional Students, etc.)

____Performing Groups (Examples: Golden Griffon Marching Band, MWSC Concert Chorale, MWSC Cheerleading Squads)

_____MWSC Athletics

____Other, Please list

Submitted 5/20/98 2:41:51 PM
Last Edited 9/14/2008 5:22:45 PM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

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