INTRODUCTION The purpose of this study was to investigate the awareness of alcohol based on the size of a studentfs city of origin. Alcohol usually fits into the picture of a college party. When it comes to consuming alcohol, the studentsf awareness plays a major role in whether or not the student will drink, and if they do, how much they will drink. Awareness of the consequences of alcohol consumption may be due to the studentsf educational background on alcohol awareness. Students who engage in social interactions, such as a college party, where alcohol may be involved possibly will consume different amounts of alcohol based on their prior awareness on alcohol. For example, a student who knows consuming more than five drinks at one sitting is considered binge drinking may not consume more than five drinks at that one sitting. A student who may not be as aware of binge drinking may consume well over their bodyfs capability at one sitting and endanger their well being without knowing they are doing so at the time. With alcohol now being consumed more and more by young people, studying the effects of alcohol and who consumes alcohol have become some of the major focuses of research. Over decades of research, there has been a search for solutions to accidents involving alcohol, usually through a link between drinking and previous alcohol education. At the same time attempts have been made to find a link to a distinctive college culture where drinking problems occur (Engs & Hanson, 1985; Friedman & Humphrey, Kyzam 1990; Ofhare, 1990, Straus & Bacon, 1953 as cited in Rabow & Duncan-Schill, 1995). It is important to try and understand the foundation of alcohol awareness to establish a system that is more effective in controlling alcohol consumption in young people. The alcohol awareness that a college student displays could be a direct function of the presence, or absence, of alcohol education during high school. A lack of alcohol awareness in secondary school leaves its graduates who go to college with a major disadvantage: attempting to become independent while dealing with the pressures of alcohol consumption. Proceeding to independent living in college with a lack of awareness leads the student to be at greater risk for falling prey to the abuse of alcohol. Accurate and extensive knowledge of the consequences of alcohol consumption helps a student going into college weigh the pros and cons of alcohol and lets them decide for themselves what they want to do based on their knowledge. A previous study by Meilman, Presley, & Cashin (1997) has shown that comparative data allows the student to contrast their drinking with that of others and helps in addressing the problem of alcohol abuse. With this comparison the students can relate their drinking habits to those of other college students across the country. After comparing their drinking habits to those of other college students, they may be able to make a more responsible decision when it comes to consuming alcohol. This information can also be used by clinicians to aid students, benefit educational programming efforts, and allow students to compare and contrast their alcohol awareness with students on other college campuses, in large and small cities. Large cities may be more capable of supporting alcohol awareness education than smaller cities due to a wider variety of resources to aid in the education process. Larger cities have access to a wider range of help, such as medical programs, and information, such as self-help centers concerning alcohol, whereas less populated cities may not. Furthermore, having a pre-existing knowledge of alcoholism may affect the participants overall awareness regardless of prior alcohol awareness through school programs. For example, a student may have adequate knowledge of the consequences of alcohol consumption from seeing a relative, such as an uncle who suffers from alcoholism, or friend who may participate in Greek life. Do people who actively participate in Greek life have an adequate education regarding alcohol awareness? The Gusfield study (1961, as cited in Rabow & Duncan-Schill, 1995) served as the beginning for direct evidence of the influence of a college culture on drinking habits: membership in fraternities and sororities was shown to be related to irresponsible drinking behavior (Gellar & Kalsher, 1990; Hayworth-Heoppner, Globetti, Stem & Morasco, 1989; Rouse & Ewing, 1978 as cited in Rabow & Duncan-Schill, 1995). In 1992, Klein investigated relationships between drinking beliefs and abuse and found that, overall, students agreed with statements regarding responsible drinking. However, Greek life members were found to be much more likely than their peers to endorse drinking ideals that could hardly be considered responsible when it came to alcohol consumption. This brings up a valid question involving Greek life: does a previous lack of alcohol awareness come into play with the Greek lifefs irresponsible drinking behavior? Additionally, it may be possible that men join fraternities because it helps them cope with their fear and alcohol only adds to the problem of masking their fear. Durand and Barlow (2000) have discussed it in a book that many males consume alcohol to avoid expressing their fear. In many cases this leads to alcoholism as a way of coping. Due to the fact that alcohol consumption has a negative impact on our society, such as alcoholism, it is important to study these problems in an effort to solve them. The purpose of the current study was to see whether or not there was an effect of the size of a college studentsf city of origin (large vs. small) and sex on their awareness about alcohol. The dependent variable was the participantfs awareness about alcohol. It was hypothesized that students from a larger populated city would be more aware of the consequences of alcohol whereas students from a less populated city would not, and that the sex of the participant would have little or no affect on the outcome.
METHOD Participants: A total of 50 college students, 10 male and 40 female, from Loyola University New Orleans volunteered for the study. The age range was from 18 to 22 years. The students were recruited through convenience sampling primarily from psychology classes on Loyolafs campus. An experimenter verbally described the research, read over the informed consent form, and then handed out the time sheet for the students to sign. Most participants were involved to receive extra credit in their psychology classes. All participants were treated ethically according to the APA standards.Materials: Sign-up sheets were used to recruit participants. The experiment was conducted in a room on Loyola University New Orleansf campus. All participants read and signed one informed consent form with a pen that was provided for them. The informed consent form told the participants what the purpose of the study was and what the participantfs task would be. A questionnaire consisting of questions adapted from the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey (Presley, Meilman, & Lyerla, 1994) in addition to questions constructed by the researchers pertaining to alcohol awareness was administered to the participants. The research questionnaire consisted of eighteen questions (See Appendix A). The questions consisted of demographic information such as the size of the participantfs city of origin; a measure of alcohol awareness such as the presence of alcohol awareness programs in junior high and/or high school; and personal views on alcohol such as beliefs towards alcohol based on previous alcohol education, or a lack thereof. A majority of the questions were close-ended where alternatives were provided for the participant to choose. Design and Procedure: This study utilized a 2 x 2 between subjects quasi-experimental design. The two independent variables, each with two levels, were the participantfs city of origin, large vs. small, and their sex, male vs. female. Large cities were defined as having a population of more than 50,000 people, while small cities were defined as having a population of less than 50,000 people. The dependent variable was the participantfs awareness and education on alcohol. Awareness was measured by the presence of an alcohol awareness program in high school and current knowledge of alcohol by means of a questionnaire distributed among the participants. Participants, who were unaware of their cityfs population or were home school, were eliminated from the study to control incomplete responses and any differences in opportunity to obtain an education on alcohol. Participants were tested in groups in a classroom on Loyola University New Orleansf campus where they were seated comfortably. Once the participants signed the informed consent form, which was handed back to the researchers, they began filling out the questionnaire. The questionnaire did not ask for the names of the participants in order to keep them anonymous. Participants usually completed the questionnaires in 10 minutes. Some of the questions could be answered by circling gyesh or gnoh and others could be answered by circling a number pertaining to the degree of agreement with the question. At the end of the study participants were debriefed on how the researchers believed a studentsf city of origin affected alcohol awareness and given information on where to seek counseling if any psychological distress was experienced. After the debriefing, the participants were thanked and dismissed.
RESULTS The purpose of this study was to find an effect on the size of a studentsf city of origin and their awareness on alcohol. The overall findings were that there was no statistical significance. The size of city of origin was found to have no effect on alcohol awareness (F (1, 48) = .190, p = .665) so the results failed to reject the null hypothesis. Our primary hypothesis was that students from a large city would be more aware of the effects of alcohol due to alcohol education in their schools. It was also hypothesized that a majority of less populated cities would not have any type of alcohol awareness program whereas larger populated cities would have alcohol awareness program. This hypothesis was found to not be true because there was no statistical significance. Effective alcohol awareness programs were found in high schools regardless of the size of city (F (1, 48) = .181, p = .672) so the results failed to reject the null hypothesis. Of the participants studied, 75% of the 12 students from a small city said the alcohol awareness programs were effective. This result is the opposite of what we were expecting to find. Of the students from large cities, 66.7% said their high school alcohol awareness programs were effective. The percentages between small cities and large cities, from the research, have shown that about 1/3 to 3/4 of high schools, regardless of the size of city, have what the studentfs believe to be an effective alcohol awareness program.
DISCUSSION Our original hypothesis was not supported by the study. There was no support for the primary hypothesis that students from a large city would be more aware of the effects of alcohol due to alcohol education in their schools. The reason it was not supported was because students from small cities had nearly the same number of effective alcohol awareness programs as did those from large cities. The basic finding was that the number of students from large and small cities both found their high school alcohol awareness programs to be effective and therefore both groups believed they had an adequate awareness on alcohol. This opposes our secondary hypothesis that a majority of less populated cities would not have any type of alcohol awareness education whereas larger cities would have alcohol awareness education. The reason the secondary hypothesis was also opposed was because it was found that similar numbers of students from large and small cities had alcohol awareness programs in their schools. Referring back to the study by Meilman, Presley, & Cashin (1997), who found that students could use data to compare their alcohol consumption to that of others, it is believed the data we have found could be used to compare similar factors concerning alcohol. For example, students in high school could compare their level of alcohol awareness with other high school students from large and small cities. With the help of alcohol awareness programs that are effective, these comparisons could help as a visual aid in the teaching process and in pamphlets regarding alcohol awareness that may be available to the public.A problem with the study occurred on the questionnaire. One of the questions (See Appendix A, number 11) in the questionnaire had an alternative answer that did not comply with the preceding question. The questionfs alternative answer should have had a list of numbers (ranging from none to ten or more) pertaining to the participantfs belief of how many drinks a college student consumed at one sitting. Instead, the alternative answers gyesh or gnoh were provided. This mistake caused us to eliminate that question from the study. This affected the measurement on the awareness of alcohol because the question that was eliminated was intended to help us measure the participantfs awareness on alcohol. Overall this took one level of measurement of alcohol awareness away from the study but did not have a major impact on its overall findings.In future studies, reliable and valid questionnaires from past research should be used. The future research should explore relationships between small cities and their programs on alcohol awareness as well as large cities and their programs on alcohol awareness to see if there are any differences in effectiveness on awareness about alcohol. This type of research could provide an explanation for variations on alcohol awareness in different cities. With alcohol now being consumed more and more by young people, and having negative impacts, studying the effects of alcohol and who consumes alcohol are important focuses of research. This study can be used as an example and an aid in further research on alcohol awareness in high schools. Other types of research involving alcohol awareness, such as the effect of the socioeconomic status of an area surrounding a school and its effect on alcohol consumption, could be a focus of future research. New research ideas are important in trying to understand the foundation of alcohol awareness and to establish a system that is more effective in controlling alcohol consumption in young people.
REFERENCES American College Health Association. (1991(. Alcohol and Other Drugs: Risky Business [Brochure]. Rockville. Durand, V.M., & Barlow, D.H. (2000). Abnormal Psychology. Stamford, CT: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning Klein, H. (1992)/ College Studentsf Attitudes Toward the Use of Alcoholic Beverages. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 37, 35-52. Meilman, P.W., Presley, C.A., & Cashin, J.R. (1997). Average Weekly Alcohol Consumptions: Drinking Percentiles for American College Students. [On-line]. Available: Internet: INFOTRAC: expanded Academic ASAP: Journal of American College Health. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse. (2001, March 6). List All Manuscripts: Psychology [24 Paragraphs]. The Mediating Effects of Alcohol on the relationship Between Sensation and Violence [On-line review article]. Available: Doc. No. 2R. Presley, C.A., Meilman, P.W. & Lyerla R. (1994). Development of the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey: Initial findings and future directions. Journal of American College Health, 42, 248-255. Rabow, J., & Duncan-Schill, M. (1995). Drinking Among College Students. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 40, 52-64.
APPENDIX A QUESTIONNAIREPlease take the next 10 minutes to provide us with the following information about yourself:
1. Age: ________years2. Sex (circle one): M F3. Classification (circle one): FR SO JR SR4. Transportation (circle one): Commuter or On-campus resident5. Do you believe that easily accessible alcohol is a factor in students choosing Loyola University New Orleans? (circle one): Yes or No6. Are you from a small city (generally equal to or less than 50,000 people) or a large city (generally greater than 50,000 people)?________________________________7. Campus situation on alcohol: a. Does your campus have an alcohol policy? (circle one): Yes or No or Donft Know b. Is it enforced? (circle one): Yes or No or Donft Know8. Are you personally concerned with the long-term affects of alcohol? (circle one): Yes or No9. Do you know anyone who has a history of alcoholism? (circle one): Yes or No10. Prior alcohol awareness: a. Did your junior high and/or high school have an alcohol awareness program? (circle one): Yes or No b. Do you believe it was effective in teaching you how to be aware of the effects of alcohol? (circle one): Yes or No11. How many drinks do you believe a college student consumes, on average, at one sitting(i.e. one night of drinking)? (circle one): Yes or No12. Are you familiar with the term binge drinking, and if so, what doe sit mean to you? (circleone): Yes or No _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________13. Are you familiar with the relationship between alcohol consumption and tolerance of alcohol in relation to the consumerfs weight? (circle one): Yes or No14. What age range do you believe consumes the most alcohol? (circle one): Younger than 16 16-18 19-22 23-29 30-35 35 or older15. Were you aware that there is a high risk of psychological dependence, but only a moderate risk of physical dependence on alcohol? (circle one): Yes or No16. Do you know what Blood Alcohol Concentration level is the current legal proof that deems a person physically and mentally incapable of driving safely? (circle one): Yes or No17. On the scale, please circle a number that you feel best expresses your belief that college students consume alcohol to feel more sociable:(Strongly Disagree) 1 2 3 4 5 (Strongly Agree)18. On the scale, please circle the number that you feel best expresses your belief that college students consume alcohol at social gatherings to feel like they are more ga part ofh the group: (Strongly Disagree) 1 2 3 4 5 (Strongly Agree)