The Influences of Stress and Beliefs on Alcohol Use

Shannon Beckemeyer-Vance

 

 

 

Abstract

The current study was concerned with the idea that individuals who experience stress may cope with pressure by consuming alcohol depending on their gender and belief system. The participants in this study were 100 college students over the age of 18 years old. The experimental method was a survey distributed in classrooms on a small midwestern university campus. A significant difference was not found in regards to gender and drinking, but the findings were going in the correct direction. The Pearson bivariate correlation did indicate a significant inverse relation between attendance to religious services and binge drinking or between attendance to religious services and serving amounts. Significant correlations were found between drinking and the expectation to forget, the expectation to have fun, and the expectation to feel less stress. Developing programs debunking these alcohol-related expectancies may be effective in preventing or reducing excessive alcohol consumption and their consequences.

  Keywords: religion, alcohol, stress, alcohol-outcome expectancy

 

 

 

Individuals encounter various situations that create feelings of stress in their lives; these stressors may be contributed to intrinsic issues or environmental stimuli. These causes can transpire from a variety of everyday activities in which each person participates. For instance, an individual may have tension from school, work, or family. Many university students experience pressure from taking college exams, writing research papers, and from their places of employment. Stress is expected to occur in the lives of college students, but how these individuals cope with tension is an issue. The current study was concerned with college students and the consumption of alcohol. Examining the relationship between belief systems and alcohol consumption may give an enlightened perspective regarding this topic. People view alcohol as a mood altering substance; therefore one can believe that many people drink as a response to experiencing stress and wanting to relieve it (Cooper, Russell, Skinner, Frone, & Mudar, 1992). This outlook can be dangerous, and college students were at risk if they share in this idea.

 Early deaths, accidental injuries, and health problems in college students can be linked to excessive alcohol use (Butler, Dodge, & Faurote, 2010). Alcohol use can be associated with higher rates of sexual assault, interpersonal conflicts, and academic problems. National surveys have reported that binge drinking can be connected to 40-44% of college students (Butler, etal., 2010). It has been reported that almost 31% of students in college meet the criteria that was needed for being diagnosed with alcohol abuse. Also, it was indicated that a diagnosis of alcohol dependency can be met by an additional six percent (Chawla, Neighbors, Lewis, Lee, & Larimer, 2007).

 Alcohol abuse is a behavioral problem that exists within the population and needs to be explained in order to benefit society. Jessor has developed a psychosocial model titled the Problem Behavior Theory to address issues in this area. The theory can be described as a source of concern in one’s environmental interactions. Three basic components exist, and they are environmental, personality, and behavior systems. Environmental consists of social influences such as friends and family. Personality systems include social cognitions, individual values, and attitudes. The behavior system is the idea that opposite structures of problems and resolutions are challenging each other. For instance, these structures may include alcohol abuse and deviancy, and a struggle develops between the two. Each of these components can relate to the explanation of why an individual may choose one behavior over another (Zamboanga, Carlo, & Raffaelli, 2004). The specific behavior of consuming alcohol can become a problem socially and is in accordance with the theory.

 The use of alcohol aligns itself with the Expectancy Theory, which proposes that people decide to behave in a certain way because they have predicted the outcome of the action. This prediction has usually been seen as the desirable end and becomes the motivation. The three elements are instrumentality, valence and expectancy. Instrumentality deals with control, and valance relates to needs and goals. Expectancy consists of goal difficulty, perceived control, and past experiences (Oliver, 1995). The experience of having indulged in the activity with a pleasant outcome and wanting to replicate the feeling may have an influence on consumption. An individual may decide to consume alcohol because of the difficulty reaching a goal or other stressors which relates to the instrumental element. These scenarios align themselves with the three aspects of the theory presented.

College students can be studied to understand if there is a relationship between stress and alcohol. Pupils who were required to write lengthy research papers or take tests and exams may have felt tension (Cohen, Ben-Zur, & Rosenfeld, 2008). Other stressors can occur in their lives as well, such as having a job. Employment can be a huge contributor to the stress levels of a college student because, jobs may require manual labor, the use of mental abilities, dealing with angry customers, or working long hours. These issues can become progressively difficult to handle. Over the years working had become an everyday part of students’ lives with an approximate employment rate varying between 48% and 77% (Butler, et al., 2010). Some studies have examined the results of work stress in relation to alcohol consumption. For instance, one reported that alcohol can be linked to work stressor by use before, during, and after work. Also, this study suggested that before work use may be more consistent than overall substance abuse (Frone, 2008). This was not the only study associating work related stress to the use of alcohol. One study found that the amount of hours worked had a positive correlation to the number of alcoholic beverages that were consumed. It stated that 30% of students who were full-time worked more than twenty hours per week on average (Butler, et al., 2010). According to this article, the idea that work stress has an association with amplified alcohol use was consistent with the research. It linked many work place characteristics to this, such as hazards or dangers, problems and hassles, job demands and workload, and conflict (Butler, et al., 2010).

Not all students work and attend college; however, employed pupils may experience added pressures (Butler, et al., 2010). Many of these students may prefer not having to work through the academic year. This type of mindset can lead students to have a negative feelings and attitudes about their job. The overall outlook, previously listed work place characteristics, and the amount of hours worked may be related to stress which can lead to the consumption of alcohol. A study supported the concept that college students drank more on days when they were required to work more hours (Butler, et al., 2010). This concept was understandable when considering the amount of time a student commits to studying for tests and preparing assignments. It was expected that the relation between work and school to be positively related to alcohol consumption (Butler, et al., 2010). The proposal that employment during the academic year contributed to college drinking has been supported in studies. It has been suggested that meeting the financial need for a student so that employment will be unnecessary may minimize the problem of student drinking (Butler, et al., 2010). This concept may aid in decreasing the amount of consumption, but other stressors continue to exist on campus. It is important to understand how the effects of stress relate to consumption.

 A number of investigations have related stress to alcohol consumption, and these research studies had similar findings. In a sixty day study, researchers found that when workers reported negative work events they also stated that there was a greater desire to drink (Carney, Armeli, Tennen, Affleck, & O’Neil, 2000). The researchers also indicated that these individuals consumed more on the days when they experienced more negative events than on those with only few negative encounters (Carney, et al., 2000). A study was conducted with eight day sequences of interviews that also had support for the theory. The results indicated that the odds of binge drinking were increased on days when individuals had severe stress problems (Grzywacz, & Almeida, 2008). It explained further that when stressors piled-up over consecutive days it made the odds higher (Grzywacz, & Almeida, 2008). In a study where individuals were tracked for six years a significant relationship was established between negative life events and alcohol use (McCreary, & Sadava, 1998). Higher occurrences of stressors were related to higher levels of alcohol consumption; negative life events seem to be associated with the tension-reduction motivation (McCreary, & Sadava, 1998).

Research had also been conducted linking gender to the relation of stress and alcohol. In a sample of 1,668 participants, coping dimensions and substance abuse was tested. It reported an impact with girls showing more effects (Wills. Sandy, Yaeger, Cleary, & Shinar, 2001). Other studies disagree with this conclusion; males were more prominently shown as having the most effects. In North American, it has been documented that males have the highest rate of using alcohol, tobacco, and illicit substances (Frone, Cooper, & Russell, 1994). For instance, in a sample of 88 regular drinkers, it was found that men with positive alcohol expectancies reported drinking more on stress-filled days. Men may believe in the idea that alcohol will help distract them from thinking about a stressful day’s events (Armeli, Carney, Tennen, Affleck, & O’Neil, 2000). This study suggested that perhaps when comparing men and women they may have different perceptions about drinking. Women may feel more self-critical about their roles and performances in those roles, especially if working, being married, and having children are added as responsibilities (Armeli, et al., 2000). An article discussed a study that reported male social drinkers drank significantly more if they were provoked and were unable to retaliate (Cooper, et al., 1992). It has been indicated that women were more likely to internalize stress and men were more likely to externalize it. Therefore, exposure to stressful events may increase the chances of a man using alcohol or exhibiting alcohol-related problems (Cooper, et al., 1992).

Alcohol consumption has been related to stressful events and experiences. However, the desire to drink can be connected to tension even if one does not partake of an alcoholic beverage. Research suggested that an important role in initiation and continuance of drinking can be contributed to drinking urges (Armeli, et al., 2000). A sixty day study reported that negative non-work events may have a greater relationship with drinking. It suggested that the time between the stressful occurrence and the opportunity to drink might have been shorter than compared to work related tension (Carney, et al., 2000). Stressful non-work events may have allowed the individual an immediate opportunity to begin consuming alcohol. Negative feelings produced by work events may have dissipated by the time individuals had the opportunity to drink (Carney, et al., 2000).

  People have seen alcohol as a mood altering substance; therefore it has been believed that people participate in activities such as drinking because of stress. This idea was introduced as the tension reduction hypothesis of alcohol consumption which suggested that alcohol reduces stress and that people drink in order to feel relief from anxiety (Cooper, et al., 1992). This theory stated that alcohol actually reduces fear that can be associated with tension or conflict and therefore reinforces consumption (Armeli, et al, 2000). It indicated that alcohol is a depressant; ingesting alcohol will result in lower levels of tension and that if someone is experiencing stress they were more likely to drink alcohol (McCreary, & Sadava, 1998). Numerous surveys have supported the idea that both social and problem drinkers expect alcohol to help with relaxation and decrease tension and anxiety (Cooper, et al., 1992). Results to one study stated that exposure to stress produced in situations of life will influence heavy drinking and supports the tension reduction theory (Cooper, et al., 1992). People who thought of alcohol as a way to cope with stress report drinking more and having an increased amount of alcohol-related problems in response to feelings of anxiety or tension (Grunberg, L., Moore, S., Anderson-Connolly, R., & Greenberg, E., 1999).

Other research studies supported the concept of the tension-reduction theory, but have other variables or outlooks that were considered. A study indicated that there were two primary motivations to consume alcohol. One was to induce positive emotions and the other is to avoid experiences of stress (Colder, 2001). The focus was on the negative reinforcement and that alcohol use is to decrease the stress (Colder, 2001). Another useful study was performed in the interest of alcohol treatment. Life events of the participants were assessed for a year before being treated as well as for a few months after it. This study found that 40% of the reasons that the individuals contributed to drinking were found to be related to stress (Brown, Vik, McQuaid, Patterson, Irwin, & Grant, 1990). It suggested that severe stressors and chronic problems may be related to increased risks of relapsing after treatments (Brown, et al., 1990) Other studies have supported this research; another group found that chronic stressors increase the chances of post-treatment substance use (Tate, Wu, McQuaid, Cummins, Shriver, Krenek, & Brown, 2008). Substances other than alcohol have also been applied to this theory. A study was conducted in regards to the use of tobacco, alcohol, illicit substances and psychotherapeutic drugs. The results indicated that stressful life events were significantly related to the use of all four of these substances (Frone, et al, 1994). Relapse from treatment and use other substances differed from the concept of drinking in general, but the studies supported the concept of tension-reduction.

Some studies have been conducted that include adolescents and consider the use of alcohol and other substances as a result of stress. A few of these included coping strategies, behavioral problems, and academic functioning. A particular study believed that alcohol use, alcohol problems, and delinquency can be predicted by positive daily events. However, this study also states that individuals who drink alcohol to cope with stress may do so to control the negative conditions (Windle, & Windle, 1996). It also mentioned that those believe that it is an effective way to deal with stress may be at risk of facing alcohol problems (Windle, & Windle, 1996). Stress relayed to coping skills can affect the use of alcohol in these individuals and has been studied. A study, which included nine hundred participants that were all seventh and eighth grade students, contributed information to the issue. Behavior and intention-based methods were used to assess coping strategies in relation to use for these individuals. The study indicated stress was positively related to substance use (Wills, Sandy, Yaeger, Cleary, & Shinar, 2001). This research also indicated that these risks will continue to increase with age (Wills. Et al., 2001). Studies have indicated that the results from adolescents and college students were similar. (Armeli, et al., 2000).

   Other studies including coping strategies as an indicator of alcohol use contained valuable information. An examination of 83 drinkers indicated that a desire to drink and alcohol consumption were used as a method of coping with negative events (Carney, et al., 2000). One investigator defined coping as the set of responses used to deal with difficult experiences. This researcher suggested that specific measures, such as Behavioral Coping and Cognitive Coping, and Relaxation, decreased the chances of substance abuse (Wills, 1986). These coping skills were designed to help individuals function better in difficult situations. Avoidant coping strategies usually deny emotion and those who use this skill were more likely to consume alcohol in response to stress (Cooper, et al., 1992). Also, individuals who did not have alternative strategies for coping had an increased likelihood to drink alcohol because of stressful circumstances. Alcohol use and abuse were used as general coping methods when other effective mechanisms were not readily available (Cooper, et al., 1992). Evidence suggested that those who consume alcohol to cope with stressful situations or escape from unpleasant emotions were more likely to be problem drinkers (Grunberg, et al., 1999). Drinking for social or reasons of enjoyment were usually not seen as problematic; however, these were escape reasons and were associated with frequent heavy drinking (Grunberg, et al., 1999).

The belief that using alcohol has an effect on an individual can contribute to whether that person will drink. If an individual believed that alcohol would improve one’s emotions, he or she would be more likely to use it to regulate their mood or relief stress. These beliefs may have predisposed a person to drink (Cooper, et al., 1992). Researchers have developed a term for this concept. It was referred to as alcohol-outcome expectancies. Anticipated tension-reduction or social and physical pleasures were considered to be beliefs of alcohol’s positive outcomes (Armeli, et al., 2000). Studies have reported that positive alcohol-outcome expectancies were positively associated with levels of consumption and drinking problems (Armeli, et al., 2000). If a person drank mainly to reduce feelings of anxiety or stress, then one could expect this person to drink when experiencing types of tension (Grunberg, et al., 1999). Work stress and alcohol consumption had a strong relation for those who thought that drinking will help them relax (Butler, etal., 2010). If one believed that alcohol consumption would have undesirable effects, then the outcome expectancies were inversely related to drinking (Armeli, et al., 2000).

Another aspect of beliefs that had an impact on whether individuals consumed alcohol seemed to be religion. Studies have found that there was a negative correlation between alcohol use and problem drinking with religiosity. Adolescent aged students who were scored as having high religiosity tended to reported decreased usage of alcohol (Brown, Parks, Zimmerman, & Phillips, 2001). Individuals without religious affiliation were less likely to abstain. Other analyses supported the idea that church attendance, frequency of prayer, importance of religion, and fundamentalism had an impact on use (Wallace, Brown, Bachman, & Laveist, 2003). One particular article stated that the most significant predictor of alcohol use among African American students was the attendance of religious services. In white adolescents, fundamentalism was most important (Brown, et al., 2001). Higher levels of religiosity have been linked to certain values that may affect the construct of how those students make decisions. They may have ego strength, health status, and pro-social peers and behaviors which have been correlated to religious beliefs. Similarly, religion has been negatively related to premature sexual involvement, suicide, and depression (Brown, et al., 2001). This concept may give an explanation to why religious beliefs impact the use of alcohol.

Whether an individual was a member of certain denominations or how conservative that type of religion is may be an indicator of abstaining from alcohol consumption. For instance, one article indicated that Islam and Buddhism prohibit drinking from the followers. It was reported that Christianity and Judaism send mixed messages. High Catholic observance in certain states had much higher rates of drinking than those of high Evangelical Protestant. According to this study, Evangelical Protestant followers had lower rates of current drinking as well as low rates for binge drinking than the other denominations that were studied (Holt, Miller, Naimi, & Sui, 2006). It should be stated that it was considered that people who belong to strict denominations that prohibit use often reported high rates of alcoholism and binger drinking. Also, the findings indicate a stronger correlation of religious denominations and alcohol consumption among whites (Holt, et al., 2006). In addition, another article revealed that people with no affiliation to a religion were less likely to abstain from the abuse of alcohol than those who were affiliated with a theological conservative denomination (Wallace, et al., 2003).

Other factors that were related to religiosity and alcohol consumption may be the impact of social norms in concern of certain religions. The relationship may have included beliefs and attitudes about drinking, parental and peer modeling, and direct effect of religion on life style. Groups for individuals that involved interactions with other members may serve a purpose. Values and attributes may have been strengthened. The perception of others’ perceptions on the approval or disapproval of consuming alcoholic beverages may impact. They represent perceived moral rules and the social normative (Chawla, et al., 2007). Higher levels of religiosity and lower use of alcohol were found to correspond with a strong ego which included love, will, hope, and purpose. Also, there was a link to pro-social behavior and peer groups. If these areas were healthy, the adolescent was less likely to participate in activities containing alcohol use (Brown, et al., 2001).

The first goal of the current study was to establish that male college students were more likely to drink alcohol than for a woman to consume alcohol. The independent variable was the gender of the college student and the dependent variable was the event of drinking. Gender was measured as self-reported on a survey. Alcohol use was measured as self-reported on a survey. It was asked if the participant drank alcohol and was scored on a Likert scale. The average quantity of alcohol was measured the same with the options being; one drink, two drinks, three drinks, four drinks, five drinks, six drinks, or seven or more drinks.  

The second goal anticipated that the stress of college exams or work stress would cause an individual to drink alcohol. It was predicted that there would be a connection between the stress of events and the consumption of alcohol or the desire to drink.  The independent variable was the stress. The dependent variable was the consumption of alcohol. Stress was measured on the survey using an adaption of a twelve question test created by Carol Spiers Group. An example statement measures whether the participant feels tired during the day. These responses were measured by using a seven point Likert scale.

The third goal of the current study was to establish that college students with positive alcohol-outcome expectancies were more likely to drink to relieve stressors. The independent variable was the belief that alcohol will reduce anxiety in an individual’s life. The dependent variable was the attempt to relieve stress through drinking. Positive-outcome tendencies were measured by self-reported answers on a survey. It asked what the participant believed he or she expected when consuming alcohol through a series of questions using a Likert scale.  The survey directly asked whether these individuals participated in the activity of drinking to relieve stress.

The fourth hypothesis was that religious affiliation will decrease the use of alcohol. The independent variable was religious affiliation, and the dependent variable was the reduction in alcohol consumption. Religious affiliation was measured with self-reported answers. Religious orientation was asked about the participant’s past and present. There was a list of different religious denominations for the participant to choose. Also, the survey questions frequency of attendance. Answers to these questions were used in comparison with the questions regarding the use of alcohol and binge drinking.

The survey questions were used to determine the gender, religious affiliation, and stress in relation to the consumption of alcohol. Also, it determined one’s expectancies of the outcomes of alcohol use. The survey was designed to establish an individual’s stress levels with the provided scale. In addition, the participants answered questions concerning their religious affiliation. These measures were used in order to determine whether the results of the participants would support the hypotheses. The hypotheses were that male college students were more likely to drink, students who have positive alcohol expectancy outcomes were more likely to engage in drinking, religious orientation will have an effect on use, and students are more likely to drink to reduce the levels of stress during times such as academic pressures, social problems, and work-related conflict.

Methods

Participants

The participants in this study were college students at a private liberal arts university in the midwest. These participants were found in classrooms and in the college café. The participants were not paid for their participation. It was a convenience sample of one hundred students, who were selected by willingness to participate in completing the survey. Demographic questions were answered in order to establish the following information. The age range from 18 to 21 years old  was selected by 80% of the participants, 12% of individuals reported being between 22 and 30 years old, and 8% of participants indicated that they were 31 years and older. The sample consisted of 70 women and 30 men. The racial/ethnic groups were recorded as follows: 80% Caucasian, 16% African American, 1% Hispanic, 1% from Middle Eastern Descent, and 2% other. One the basis of childhood religious affiliation, 32% of the sample was Catholic, 25% were Baptist, 12% Lutheran, 9% Methodist, 9% other Christian, 5% Agnostic, 1% Jewish, 1% Muslim, and 6% reported belonging to another religion. One the basis of the participants’ present religious affiliation, 29% of the sample was Catholic, 15% were Baptist, 9% Lutheran, 11% Methodist, 15% other Christian, 8% Agnostic, 4% Atheist, 1% Jewish, 1% Muslim, and 7% reported belonging to another religion. In the survey, 58% of the participants indicated that they work at least part time, and 97% reported that they were full-time students.

Materials

A survey was distributed to the 100 participants that were chosen through a convenience sample. All the surveys were completed by the college students and returned to the researcher. A portion of the survey was adapted from Carol Spiers Group Self-Scoring Stress Questionnaire. That particular questionnaire has been used previously and is considered valid. A portion of the survey had some of the Likert scales reversed to reduce Yea & Nay Saying. Each participant signed a consent form which was removed from the survey. The participants were informed that the survey was confidential and that their identity would not be able to be traced to their particular questionnaire. Also, the experimenter explained that the participants did not have to answer any questions that make them feel uncomfortable and supplied them with the School Counselor’s contact information in case it would be needed. They were encouraged to be as honest as possible.

Procedures

 Participants were asked many questions concerning the consumption of alcohol. An important aspect was to define a serving of alcohol. It was listed as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor were considered a single drink. After establishing a serving, the participant was asked if he or she consumed alcohol. The individual was asked how many drinks they consumed on a typical outing. The choices were 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 or more. The participants were asked if they binge drink, and binge drinking was defined as 3 drinks per 2 hours for women and 5 drinks per 2 hours for men.

The individuals included in the study were asked questions regarding one’s beliefs regarding drinking alcohol. Participants rated their feeling’s to a variety of questions about their expectations when consuming alcohol. For instance, the participants were asked that when they drank whether it was to feel less stress, forget one’s problems, or to fit in with others. Also, questions were asked in regards to the reasons why he or she did not drink if that was the case. These expectations and others were measured on a Likert Scale.

The participants were asked questions from a published stress scale to determine the person’s actual stress. A measurement of stress by Carole Spiers was adapted for the purpose of this study, and the test consists of 10 queries. The participants were directed to choose the option that best fits his or her feelings about a particular statement. These responses were then measured on a Likert Scale to determine levels of stress.

The survey was field tested by a group of peers and revised. After revision, a copy of the survey, a copy of the consent form, and a list of the hypotheses were sent to the Research Institutional Review Board via e-mail. The board reviewed the information and approved the experiment. The surveys were printed and distributed on the University campus. A copy of this survey can be found in the appendix portion of this research paper.

 The researcher placed the participants into groupings. Individuals were categorized by gender, stress levels, alcohol outcome expectancies, and religious beliefs. The gender groups were categorized as men and women. Gender was used to establish the differences in results on whether men or women were more likely to consume alcohol. The participant’s received a total stress score by combining the responses from the stress scale adapted from Carole Spiers. The participants were categorized into religious beliefs to establish whether it may impact alcohol use. Also, the participants were divided into those who believe that alcohol was mood altering and those who do not believe. This category was used to establish whether belief in positive alcohol outcome expectancy increases the individual’s likelihood to consume alcohol. The alcohol consumption and the number of servings consumed were used for comparison to variables. All this information was compiled to determine whether the results support the hypotheses. The data was calculated to test the hypotheses, which state that male college students were more likely to consume alcohol, individuals who have positive alcohol expectancy outcomes have an increased likelihood to engage in drinking, college students drink to reduce the levels of stress, and religious affiliation will decrease the likelihood of drinking.

Results

After surveying the participants, the data was analyzed to decide if the hypotheses were supported with the collected data. The hypothesis stating that men are more likely to consume alcohol was calculated first. The independent samples T-test analysis compared total scores for males and females in regards to drinking alcohol. A significant difference was not found, but the findings were going in the predicted direction. The means for drinking (male M=3.367, S.D.=1.956, female M=3.271, SD=1.727), binging(male M=2.300, S.D.=1.968), female M=2.243, S.D.=1.488), and the amount of servings consumed (male M=3.417, S.D.=2.265, female M=2.983, S.D.= 1.843) were higher for men than for women. See chart 1. However, a Pearson bivariate correlation found a significant relationship between drinking and binge drinking (r=.770, p=.001) and a significant correlation between drinking and the serving amounts consumed. (r=.631, p=.001).

 

Chart 1                                                     Group Statistics

 

 

Gender

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

drink

Male

30

3.3667

1.95613

.35714

 

Female

70

3.2714

1.72720

.20644

binge

Male

30

2.3000

1.96784

.35928

 

Female

70

2.2429

1.48846

.17791

servingamounts

Male

24

3.4167

2.16527

.44198

 

Female

59

2.9831

1.84289

.23992

 

Calculating whether students are more likely to drink alcohol during times of stress started with having the responses from the adaptation of the Carol Spiers Group Self-Scoring Stress Questionnaire combined to produce a stress total. A Pearson bivariate correlation found no significant relationship between the stress total and drinking alcohol which does not give any support to the hypothesis. The hypothesis was not supported with this measure, but it will be discussed later that the alcohol outcome expectancies results indicated that the participants drank to feel less stress. Also, the independent samples T-test analysis indicated that men (M=29.833, S.D.=7.607) had significantly lower stress scores than the scores of women (M=37.757, S.D.=9.252), t(98)=-4.127,p=.001. These results are illustrated in Chart 2.

 

 

Chart 2                                              Group Statistics

 

 

Gender

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

stresstot

Male

30

29.8333

7.60709

1.38886

 

Female

70

37.7571

9.25240

1.10587

 

 

It was hypothesized that college students with positive alcohol expectancies were more likely to drink. The expectations of drinkers were used to measure positive alcohol expectations. When performing Pearson bivariate correlations, the tests supported that there were three main reasons that correlate with drinking. A significant correlation was found between drinking and the expectation to forget (r=.375, p=.001), between drinking and the expectation to have fun (r=.559, p=.001), and between drinking and the expectation to feel less stress (r=.431, p=.001).  The means are represented in Chart 3.

 

Chart 3                       Descriptive Statistics

 

 

Mean

Std. Deviation

N

drink

3.3000

1.78942

100

forget

2.3820

1.66860

89

lessstress

2.7753

1.69057

89

fun

5.1461

2.05355

89

fitwithothers

2.3034

1.47251

89

selfconfident

2.5843

4.38699

89

otherexpct

1.7922

1.57562

77

 

 

 

An inverse correlation was found when comparing data for indicating the reasons that the participants did not drink which is illustrated in Chart 4. The study indicated that people did not drink for all the reasons listed in the survey. Means and Standard Deviation are found on Chart 5.

Chart 4                                                  Correlations

 

 

 

drink

drink

Pearson Correlation

1

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

 

 

N

100

health

Pearson Correlation

-.455(**)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

 

N

88

losscontrol

Pearson Correlation

-.366(**)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

 

N

88

religionreason

Pearson Correlation

-.453(**)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

 

N

88

friendsdont

Pearson Correlation

-.467(**)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

 

N

88

responsibility

Pearson Correlation

-.485(**)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

 

N

88

expensive

Pearson Correlation

-.382(**)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

 

N

88

fearpunishmnt

Pearson Correlation

-.476(**)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

 

N

88

underage

Pearson Correlation

-.539(**)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

 

N

88

taste

Pearson Correlation

-.533(**)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

 

N

88

**  Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

*  Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chart 5                      Descriptive Statistics

 

 

Mean

Std. Deviation

N

drink

3.3000

1.78942

100

health

2.4545

2.13837

88

losscontrol

2.3295

2.02695

88

religionreason

2.1591

1.81872

88

friendsdont

2.1477

1.66464

88

responsibility

3.6818

2.24144

88

expensive

2.9773

2.14946

88

fearpunishmnt

2.6364

2.18238

88

underage

2.7386

2.55286

88

taste

2.4773

2.17603

88

 

 The Pearson bivariate correlation indicated that the amount of attendance to religious services had a near relationship to drinking. An inverse correlation existed (r=-.192, p=.055). However, the Pearson bivariate correlation did indicate a significant inverse relation between attendance to religious services and binge drinking (r=-.256, p=.010) and between attendance to religious services and serving amounts (r=-.299, p=.006). This data supports the hypothesis that individuals with religion affiliation are less likely to consume alcohol and is illustrated below in Chart 6.

Chart 6                                                                  Correlations

 

 

 

binge

servingamounts

drink

attendance

binge

Pearson Correlation

1

.746(**)

.770(**)

-.256(*)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

 

.000

.000

.010

 

N

100

83

100

100

servingamounts

Pearson Correlation

.746(**)

1

.631(**)

-.299(**)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

 

.000

.006

 

N

83

83

83

83

drink

Pearson Correlation

.770(**)

.631(**)

1

-.192

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

.000

 

.055

 

N

100

83

100

100

attendance

Pearson Correlation

-.256(*)

-.299(**)

-.192

1

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

.010

.006

.055

 

 

N

100

83

100

100

**  Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

*  Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

 

Using One Way ANOVA, no strong significant difference was discovered when comparing present religious affiliations and drinking F (74, 4)=1.793, p=.139.  Using the planned post hoc Least Significant Difference test, it appeared that Methodists (M=3.727, SD=1.348) drank nearly significantly more than Baptists (M=2.400, SD=1.724) with a significance of 0.065, that Catholics (M=3.517, SD=1.864) had a near significance at the level of 0.053 compared to Baptists, and that the comparison of drinking of Lutherans (M=4.222, SD=1.564) was significantly higher at the .018 level than the drinking of Baptists. Overall, this information indicated that participants who affiliate with the Baptist grouping as being their present religion drank less alcohol than other Christian groups as seen in Chart 7.

                                                                                                                            

 

 Chart 7               Descriptives

 

drink

 

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Methodist

11

3.7273

1.34840

Catholic

29

3.5172

1.86357

Baptist

15

2.4000

1.72378

Lutheran

9

4.2222

1.56347

OtherChristian

15

3.5333

2.06559

Total

79

3.4177

1.82298

 

 

Discussions

The first goal of the current study was to establish that male college students were more likely to consume alcohol than females. The connection between gender and alcohol consumption was not supported. The second hypothesis stated that consumption of alcohol was more likely to occur when an individual was faced with direct stress. The connection between stressful events and the use of alcohol did not have a strong relationship. The third goal was to establish that college students with positive alcohol-outcome tendencies are more likely to drink. The results indicate that this hypothesis can be supported with data. A significant correlation was found between drinking and the expectation to forget, between drinking and the expectation to have fun, and between drinking and the expectation to feel less stress. A significant inverse relation was found between attendance at religious services and binge drinking and between attendance at religious services and serving amounts.    

A large percentage of the sample reported that they drink alcohol with the three main expectancies: to forget, have fun, and feel less stress. These types of beliefs and behaviors have an effect on society as a whole. If these trends continue, the number of individuals who suffer from alcoholism may increase to a much more alarming amount. The results of this study may encourage parents, universities, churches, and role models to initiate methods to influence behaviors. The use of alcohol aligns itself with the Expectancy Theory, which proposes that people decide to behave in a certain way because they have predicted the outcome of the action. This prediction has usually been seen as the desirable end and becomes the motivation. If students do not have the opportunity or experience to develop the expectancy, the results of this study would change. An inverse relation has been found between attendance at religious services and binge drinking, and between attending religious services and amounts of servings of alcohol. Encouraging college students to attend church services or providing incentive to do so may have a positive impact on the problem of drinking alcohol.

Like many other studies, the current research has limitations, particularly the sample. The sample size is small with only 100 participants; therefore, it cannot necessarily be applied to the whole population. Also, 70 participants were female and 30 individuals were male. A more evenly distributed sample may have more accurate results when comparing alcohol consumption and gender. The participants were all college students at a Methodist university; the results comparing alcohol consumption may differ completely at a public institution; therefore, including a public institution may have an impact on the religious aspect of the study. In addition, 80% of the sample was individuals who were between 18 and 21 years old. A sample that included more individuals of the legal drinking age may be a more satisfactory sample for researching the consumption of alcohol. It is also important to note that the findings of college students may not generalize to the overall population. Adults may be more mature or more stressed which would affect results. Future studies should avoid these problems to find if the hypotheses will continue to be supported. A larger and more distributed sample should be used. Continuing research based on the three predominant expectancies may be beneficial to a better understanding of the issue. Drinking to forget, have fun, and reduce stress are aspects that need further study. By examining other samples, reasons for alcohol use may be better understood, and a solution can be remedied. The problems associated with the activity of consuming alcohol can then be reduced or eliminated.

 


 

References

Armeli, S., Carney, M.A., Tennen, H. Affleck, G., & O’Neil, T. (2000), Stress and alcohol use: A daily process examination of the stressor-vulnerability model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 979-994, doi:10.1037/0022-3514.78.5.979

Brown, S.A., Vik, P.W., McQuaid, J.R., Patterson, T.L., Irwin, M.R., & Grant, I. (1990), Severity of psychosocial stress and outcome of alcoholism treatment. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 99, 344-348, doi:10.1037/0021-843X.99.4.334

Brown, T.L., Parks, G.S., Zimmerman, R.S., & Phillips, C.M. (2001), The Role of Religion in Predicting Adolescent Alcohol Use and Problem Drinking. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 62, 696-705

Butler, A.B., Dodge, K.D., & Faurote, E.J. (2010), College student employment and drinking: A daily study of work stressors, alcohol expectancies, and alcohol consumption. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15, 291-303, doi:10.1037/a0019822

Carney, M.A., Armeli, S., Tennen, H., Affleck, G., & O’Neil, T.P. (2000), Positive and negative daily events perceived stress, and alcohol use: A diary study. Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, 68, 788-798, doi:10.1037/0022-006X.68.5.78

Chawla, N., Neighbors. C., Lewis, M., Lee, C.M., & Larimer, M.E. (2007), Attitudes and Perceived Approval of Drinking as Mediators of the Relationship Between the Importance of Religion and Alcohol Use. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 68, 410-418

Cohen, M., Ben-Zur, H., & Rosenfeld, M.J. (2008), Sense of Coherence, Coping Strategies, and Test Anxiety as Predictors of Test Performance among College Students. International Journal of Stress Management, 15, 289-303. Doi:10.1037?1072-5245.15.3.289

Colder, C.R. (2001), Life stress, physiological, and subjective indexes of negative emotionality, and coping reasons for drinking: Is there evidence for a self-medication model of alcohol use? Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 15, 237-245.doi:10.1037/0893-164X.153.3.237

Cooper, M.L., Russell, M., Skinner, J.B., Frone, M.R., & Mudar, P. (1992), Stress and alcohol use: Moderating effects of gender, coping, and alcohol expectancies. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 101, 139-152, doi:10.1037/0021-843X.101.1.139

Frone, M.R. (2008), Are work stressors related to employee substance use? The importance of temporal context assessments of alcohol and illicit drug use. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 199-206, doi:10.1037/0021-9010.93.1.199

Frone, M.R., Cooper, L.M., & Russell, M. (1994), Stressful life events, gender, and substance abuse: An application of tobit regression. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 8, 59-69, doi:10.1037/0893-164X.8.2.59

Grunberg, L., Moore, S., Anderson-Connolly, R., & Greenberg, E. (1999), Work stress and self-reported alcohol use: The moderating role of escapists reasons for drinking. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 4, 29-36, doi:10.1037/1076-8998.4.1.29

Grzywacz, J.G. & Almeida, D.M. (2008), Stress and binge drinking: A daily process examination of stress pile-up and socioeconomic status in affect regulation. International Journal of Stress Management, 15, 364-380, doi:10.1037/a0013368

Holt, J.B., Miller, J.W., Naimi, T.S., & Sui, D.Z. (2006), Religious Affiliation and Alcohol Consumption in the United States. Geographical Review, 96, 523-542

McCreary, D.R. & Sadua, S.W. (1998), Stress, drinking, and the adverse consequences of drinking in two samples of young adults. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 12, 247-261, doi:10.1037/0893-164X.12.4.247

Oliver, H. (1995), Influence of Motivational Factors on Performance. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 22, 45-50

Tate, S.R., Wu, J., McQuaid, J.R., Cummins, K., Shriver, C., Krenek, M., &Brown, S.A. (2008), Comorbidity of substance dependence and depression: Role of life stress and self-efficacy in sustaining abstinence. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 22, 47-57, doi:10.1371/0893-164X.22.1.47

Wallace Jr., J.M., Brown, T.N., Bachman, J.G., & Laveist, T.A. (2003), The Influence of Race and Religion on Abstinence From Alcohol, Cigarettes, and Marijuana Among Adolescents. Journal Studies on Alcohol, 64, 843-848

Windle, M. & Windle, R.C. (1996), Coping strategies, drinking motives, and stressful life events among middle adolescents: Associations with emotional and behavioral problems with academic functioning. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105, 551-560, doi:10.1037/0021-843X.105.4.551

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Author Note

This research was conducted by Shannon Beckemeyer-Vance, Department of Psychology, McKendree University, Lebanon Illinois. Correspondence concerning this research may be directed to Shannon Beckemeyer-Vance, McKendree University, Psychology Department, Carnegie Hall, Room 204, 701 College Road, Lebanon, IL 62254 email: sbeckemeyer@live.com.

 

Appendices

 

Read this consent form.  If you have any questions ask the experimenter and

He/She will answer your questions.

“I have read the statement below and have been fully advised of the procedures to be used in this project.  I have been given sufficient opportunity to ask any questions I had concerning the procedures and possible risks involved.  I understand the potential risks involved and I assume them voluntarily.”

 

Please sign your initials, detach below the dotted line, and continue with the survey.

 

Sign your initials here_________________                                                      Date__________

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The McKendree University Psychology Department supports the practice of protection for human participants participating in research and related activities.  The following information is provided so that you can decide whether you wish to participate in the present study.  Your participation in this study is completely voluntary.  You should be aware that even if you agree to participate, you are free to withdraw at any time, and that if you do withdraw from the study, your grade in this class will not be affected in any way.  This survey is being conducted to assist the researcher in fulfilling a partial requirement for PSY 496W.

 

You must be over 18 years of age to participate in the survey.  It should not take more than 10 minutes for you to complete and will be completely anonymous and confidential.  If you should have any other questions, don’t hesitate to contact me,  Shannon Beckemeyer-Vance, 618-806-6617 or at sdbeckemeyer-vance@mckendree.edu  or Dr. Bosse, 618-537-6882 or at mbosse@mckendree.edu.  Some of the questions in the survey may confront sensitive topics.  If answering any of these questions causes you problems or concerns, please contact one of our campus psychologists, Bob Clipper or Amy Champion-Stahlman, at 537-6503.

 

Rev. 3/31/09

The Shannon Survey

 

1.      Gender:     M    F

2.      Age:

a.       18-21

b.      22-30

c.       31 and older

 

3.      Are you a fulltime student?   Yes    No

 

4.      Which of the following do you identify with the most?

a.       African American

b.      Caucasian

c.       Asian

d.      Hispanic

e.       Middle Eastern Descent

f.       Other_______

 

5.      Are you employed?

a.       No

b.      Part-time

c.       Full-time

6.      If employed, how many hours per week are worked?__________

 

7.      Religious Orientation during childhood:

a.       Methodist

b.      Catholic

c.       Baptist

d.      Lutheran

e.       Mormon

f.       Other Christian________

g.      Jewish

h.      Muslim

i.        Agnostic

j.        Atheist

k.      Other__________

8.      Religious Orientation at the present:

a.       Methodist

b.      Catholic

c.       Baptist

d.      Lutheran

e.       Mormon

f.       Other Christian________

g.      Jewish

h.      Muslim

i.        Agnostic

j.        Atheist

k.      Other__________

9.      How often do you attend religious services?

a.       Never

b.      Only on holidays

c.       Once a month on average

d.      2-3 times a month on average

e.       4 times a month

f.       More than 4 times a month

 

Rate the following statements on a scale of 1-7.

 

10.  I drink alcohol.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                                                                       Frequently

11.  I binge drink. (defined as 3 drinks per 2 hours for women and 5 drinks per 2 hours for men)

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                                                                       Frequently

 

 

  If you drink, do you drink in order to:

 

12.  Feel less stress.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

13.  Forget my problems.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

14.  Have fun.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree         

15.  Fit in with others.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

16.  Feel more self-confident.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

17.  Other expectations ______________.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

               

 

If you do not drink, it is because:

 

18.  Of health concerns.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

19.  Of loss of control.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

20.  Of religious orientation.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

 

 

21.  My friends do not drink.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

      22. I have too many responsibilities.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

23. It is too expensive.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

24. Of fear of punishment.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

25.  I am under age.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

26. I do not like the taste.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

27.  Other reasons________________.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

           

 

Choose the option that best fits your feelings about each statement on a scale 1-7.

 

28.  I am not in control of the success or failure of my life.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

           

29. I welcome the opportunities for change in my life.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

 

30. I have someone at work (school) or outside it whom I can confide in.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

 

31. If there’s a disagreement about work (school), I defer to other people’s judgments and abilities.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

 

32. If a project I am working on fails, I brood over the failure for a long time.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

 

33. If a project I am working on fails, I blame myself whether it was my fault or not.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

 

34. I spend so long at work (school) that my outside relationships are suffering.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

 

35. I’m so busy I find it increasingly difficult to concentrate on the job in front of me

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

 

36. I get a good night’s sleep without worrying about work (school).

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

 

37. Recently I’ve found it more difficult to control my emotions.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

 

38. I feel tired during the day

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly disagree                                                                                                                                                     Strongly agree

 

 

 

 

39. For survey purposes, a serving of alcohol is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. If you drink, how many drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical outing in a two hour period?

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6          7 or more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A portion of this survey is an adaptation of the Self-Scoring Stress Questionnaire by the Carole Spiers Group.