Kathleen M. Riga


Research Questions:
1. What is the overall relationship between religiosity and attitudes toward alcohol in the college population?
2. Is this relationship modified by the gender of the student?
3. Is this relationship modified by the class year of the student?

Relevant Background:
   In general, past research has suggested that the more religious the student, the less alcohol use and/or alcohol related problem behaviors are exhibited (Jolly & Orford, 1983). Results of some studies have indicated that religion may act as a social control on the alcohol use of its young followers (Amey, Albrecht, & Miller, 1996). Both gender and age differences have been found concerning alcohol use alone (Bliss & Crown, 1994; Engs, Diebold, & Hanson, 1996).

1. Greater religiosity would be associated with more negative attitudes toward alcohol
2. Gender specific relationships would exist between religiosity and alcohol attitudes
3. Age specific relations between religiosity and alcohol attitudes would be observed, with religiosity increasing and attitudes toward alcohol becoming more negative.

     Participants.Thirty-six students from St. Anselm College participated, with 26 females and 10 males. The sample was composed of eight freshmen, five sophomores, eight juniors, and 15 seniors.  Most were Catholic, but three were Protestant, and one reported having no religion. The majority were randomly selected from campus mailbox numbers, however, a small number was obtained from a Psychometrics class.
           The Hilty Pneuman Religious Inventory (HPRI). This questionnaire is a five-point Likert scale consisting of questions measuring Religious Belief (the extent to which an individual willingly acknowledges the acceptance of traditional beliefs in doctrines of the church), Religious Difficulty (the extent that individuals perceive themselves as having feelings of anxiety and difficulty with their religion), Religious Apathy and Boredom (the extent to which individuals willingly acknowledge a need to withdraw from a religious setting due to anxiety-provoking situations), Religious Satisfaction (the extent to which an individual finds church activities and interpersonal relationships enjoyable and supportive) and Social Conscience (individuals' beliefs about their church's role in society). Each of these categories consist of several statements where the participant indicates his or her degree of agreement as either Strongly Agree, Agree, Uncertain, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree. The HPRI has been found to have test-retest and coefficient alpha reliability, as well as validity.
           The Student Alcohol Questionnaire (SAQ). This questionnaire consists of eight demographic questions, only one of which was used by the researcher (the question asking the participants' religious affiliation). Items on the original SAQ measuring alcohol-related problem behaviors were modified from self-report questions to attitude questions by asking participants to rate how concerned they would be if a friend exhibited each problem behavior, measured on a Likert scale. Additionally, questions testing alcohol knowledge were used from the SAQ, answered as either true, false, or do not know. Internal consistency reliability was found for all items, excluding demographic factors.
     Procedure.Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors were randomly distributed the questionnaires through inter-campus mail. Each received a recruitment letter stating the purpose of the study and encouraging participation, as well as a consent form to read and sign, and a set of instructions informing them on procedure. The SAQ was presented first, and then the HPRI, and participants were asked to complete them in that order. The questionnaires were voluntarily returned through inter-campus mail. The same packet of questionnaires with the same instructions and order of presentation were completed by participants from the Psychometrics class.
     Data Analyses.Statistical analyses were computed on SPSS 8.0 for Windows. Class year categories were divided into two groups: lowerclassmen (freshmen/sophomores) and upperclassmen (juniors/seniors). A MANOVA was conducted to examine differences between gender and class year on the measures of religiosity and alcohol attitudes. Bivariate correlations were calculated to determine individual relationships between these measures in the overal sample as well as in each gender and class year.

Major Findings:
1. Overall, students with high religious belief tended to have more negative attitudes toward drinking behaviors and less knowledge about alcohol.
2. The stronger the religious belief and the higher the religious satisfaction, the more negative the alcohol attitudes in females, but not males.
3. No age specific relationships were found.

   The findings of this study suggest that college students with high religiosity may tend to exhibit more negative attitudes toward drinking, and that this relationship may differ within genders. The next step may be to determine ways that religious communities can get involved to take more preventive measures toward alcohol use in young people. Additionally, since the students studied came from a Catholic college environment, it may be useful for future research to conduct a similar study comparing students at Catholic and non-Catholic colleges to discover whether a religious environment contributes to the students' religiosity and/or alcohol attitudes.

Albrecht, S.L., Amey, C.H., & Miller, M.K. (1996). Racial differences in adolescent drug use: The impact of religion. Substance Use and Misuse, 31, 1311-1332.

Bliss, S.K., & Crown, C.L. (1994). Concern for appropriateness, religiosity, and gender as predictors of alcohol and marijuana use. Social Behavior and Personality, 22, 227-237.

Diebold, B.A., Engs, R.C., & Hanson, D.J. (1996).  The drinking patterns and problems of a national sample of college students, 1994. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 41, 13-33.

Jolly, S., & Orford, J. (1983). Religious observance, attitudes toward drinking, and knowledge about drinking, amongst university students. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 18, 271-278.

   Recent findings on the relationship between religiosity and alcohol use

   Suggestions on actions for Faith Communities

   A College Student's "Guide" to Drinking--Learn interesting facts & statistics, and test your alcohol knowledge and risk

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