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Does Alcohol Abuse in a Family Influence Attitudes Towards

Education on the College-Aged Child?

Samuel D. Bates
Research Chair:
Dr. Amy Reckdenwald
11 April 2014
Several researchers have examined how drinking can impact a students
grade point average (GPA). This will be covered in depth in the
literature review section. In the American culture, college is associated
with alcohol and other experimentation. High school and college
students drink and party. Social learning theory says that it is a learned
behavior. People may either drink, or not drink based on the positive and
negative sanctions they witnessed their older siblings and parents
receive. This research will examine if the sanctions the child witnesses
can impact their academic performance once they enter college. This is a
quantitative study using a convenience sample of college students at a

Individuals give various reasons for their consumption of alcohol. From a functionalist
perspective, drinking is a way for humans to bond in a community. For a lot of college students,
drinking becomes a distraction from their studies. Some students are socialized into drinking
through their family. They are born into a family that drinks heavily, and in that case, drinking
becomes part of their identity. Research shows that students who drink tend to have lower GPAs
(Musgrave-Marquart, D., Bromley, S. P., & Dalley, M. B., 1997). This study attempts to
examine how students are socialized into drinking. It will examine other social forces they may
impact the students choices involving alcohol. It will ultimately examine the relationship
between the family atmosphere involving alcohol consumption and the childs view of academia.
Research shows that students who are born into a family that values education tend to excel more
in academics than other students who had a different environment growing up. This is not the
case in every student. In academics, and in drinking, there are other forces that play a role in the
outcome of the student. Students who grew up in a family that drinks heavily may refrain from
drinking heavily themselves. Students may grow up in a conservative household, and become
heavy drinkers themselves. The reasons for this will be explored in the literature review.
Literature Review
Researchers Trice & Beyer (1977) found that among college students alcohol and nicotine use
are desirable. Students believed use of these substances is expected among peers. Higher nicotine
use generally translated to higher acceptance among peers. The same went for alcohol. Alcohol
had a peak; this means that the more a person drinks, the more socially acceptable they are.
However, after a person reaches a threshold, that amount of use then becomes undesirable among
their peers. Marijuana tends to work the same way as alcohol in the sense that some use is
expected. After a student uses a certain amount, they then become undesirable to be part of that
group. Trice & Beyer found that harder drugs (cocaine, pain killers, heroine, ect.) are entirely
undesirable among most students. This creates smaller subgroups among college students. The
minorities who tended not to partake in drugs and alcohol tended to receive large amounts of
rejection from their peers who partake in some. This creates another group. Now there are three
groups: a small group of students who refrain from drinking or using any drugs; another small
group who drinks heavily, smokes more than the desirable amount, and uses harder drugs. The
third group is the largest group. This group is the group that uses the amount that is most
desirable among students.
Other research shows that people drink or use drugs for a couple different reasons. The most
common are the approach-avoidance, coping, and acceptance among peers. In the avoidanceapproach, Labouvie and Bates give the suppression and disinhibition reasons. This means that
people drink to avoid problems, or to help them cope with different thoughts. The approachavoidance, and the suppression/disinhibition groups are generally defined as abusers of alcohol.
Another group of students said they drank for acceptance among their peers. These students
believed that smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol was a way to gain status among their new
college-aged friends. Another team of researchers reinforce Labouvie and Batess research.
Students gave various reasons for drinking. These reasons include drinking to get drunk and feel

less shy, drinking to be accepted by others, and drinking to get their mind off of things. The
researchers Labrie, Rodrigues, Schiffman & Tawalbeh (2007) found that students who start
drinking younger than then the mean age of fifteen tend to drink more for escape than most other
students who start drinking once they enter college.
Other researchers found that students who drank more, or smoked more cigarettes tended to have
low GPAs. For instance, a study done by Musgrave-Marquart, Bromley & Dalley (1997) did a
research that greatly examined the correlation between drinking, nicotine use and GPA. It not
only examined the person using, but the people who the person using had the most contact with.
Students who abstained from nicotine and drinking had a higher GPA. They also found that dorm
mates and floor mates impact the overall GPA of students. It affects the overall GPA more than
the individual GPA. The lower end of the curve lowers greatly and the median lowers a little bit
(Kremer & Levy, 2008). When a student drinks before he/she gets to college, Kremer and Levy
found that to be a variable to ultimately lower their roommates GPA. This could be from making
noise and being a distraction to the student trying to study. It could also become a peer
acceptance issue. One of the reasons students give for drinking is peer pressure, or for the sake of
this paper, social pressure. Research shows over and over again that students enter college with
the expectation that college students drink heavily and having a roommate who drinks reinforces
this expectation. Musgrave-Marquart, Bromley & Dalley also measured personality types and
correlation to drinking. They had scales, measuring personality characteristics, and subscales
measuring the intensity of each characteristic. For example, in the openness category; trust,
and modesty are two of the subscales. For daily consumption, they used the Likert Scale.
Overall, the researchers found a negative relationship between alcohol and success in school.
Zimmerman (1989) did a research that shows how sanctions can play a role into acceptance
among peers. Social cognitive theorists, also known as social learning theorists talk about how a
student might take an action, receive a positive sanction, and try to take more of those actions to
receive more positive sanctions (Zimmerman, 1989). This is how students can either drink more
and neglect school work, or not drink and focus on school based on the atmosphere of their
interactions with other people in their dorms. This being said, other research showed that
students with open-minded, easygoing personalities tended to have higher GPAs (MusgraveMarquart, Bromley & Dalley 1997). Social cognitive theory plays a big role in this section of
research. Booth-Butterfield & Sidelinger (1998) found that students tend to take on the views of
their parents and carry these views into adulthood . Students generally are more influenced by
their parents than they are by their friends in college. It is not just their peers, students can still
do an action and receive a positive or negative sanction from their parents. Students who had the
most and best communication about alcohol and drugs with their parents tended to either abstain
from drugs and alcohol entirely, or use it in the most responsible ways. If a student grows up in a
relaxed, non-drinking household, it is less likely that they will drink and more likely that the
student will do better in school. That is if the student does not have a drinking roommate or
drinking friends. A drinking roommate or drinking friends puts social pressure on the nondrinking student and they may then not do well because either they start drinking and not do
school, or the distractions interfere with their school and their GPA drops. This here also means
that there is neither a negative, nor a positive correlation between how parents drink, and how

their college-aged children drink (Musgrave-Marquart, Bromley & Dalley 1997).

The type of home that a child grows up in has little affect on if that person will drink heavily or
not. A child may see alcohol damage at the very worst, decide not too ever drink, and eventually
drink because of various social forces. The opposite can happen too, a child may grow up in a
household without any exposure to liquor at all. The media advertises drinking as
companionship, and once the child enters adolescence or adulthood, they may start to drink
because of acceptance among their peers (Randolph, Archuleta, Smith & Teasley 2013).
Randolph and his team also found that students who play sports on a team also drink more than
other students. Illicit drugs were found to be more stigmatized among students on sports teams.
This could be because a lot of them impact the health of the athletes. That being said, marijuana
was most popular among male athletes lest popular among female athletes. The media also plays
a huge role in this. Alcohol beverage advertisements general use sports as the main tool in
promoting their beverage. It is rare that the advertisements that revolve around sports will talk
about the risks and dangers of drinking (Lisha & Sussman, 2010). Social research has shown that
social forces are a powerful influence on adolescent drinking, however, when interviewed on the
individual level, teenagers generally deny that their friends influence their decisions with alcohol
at all (Booth-Butterfield & Sidelinger 1998). The main limitation to Butterfield and Sidelingers
research is that they issued the students two survey. One was meant for the student and the other
was meant for the parents. They researchers had no way of knowing if the students honestly gave
the surveys to their parents for their parents to fill out. The results showed that students attitudes
towards alcohol where the same, or closely related to their parents attitudes towards alcohol.
In 2004, DeBerard, Spielmans & Julka did a demographics study and found that a large amount
of college students drop out. Most of them return at some point, but roughly forty percent of
freshman right out of high school do not graduate. Good GPAs in high school tend to have a
positive correlation with GPAs in college; however, a high test scores in high school does not
mean that a student will not drop out of college. This is because college is significantly more
stressful than high school. A lot of high school students are not prepared to deal with the heavy
workload and the distractions that accompany a college education. This study examined two
types of coping. The avoidance which is associated with heavy drinking; and acceptance, which
was found to be associated with low GPAs. This research did show that regardless of college
success, students with higher high school GPAs generally intended on returning to college at
some point if they did drop out.
Theoretical Argument and Hypothesis
Several different theories have been created to try to understand behaviors. This study will use
the socialization process and social learning theory. Behaviors are learned through primary and
secondary socialization. A child will look at their parents behavior and try to imitate the actions.
The child gets older and begins to get exposed to other behaviors from various institutions. The
child also feels the need to find his or her own identity, Most of the time secondary socialization
reinforces what was learned in primary socialization. This paper will use social learning theory
to explore when primary and secondary socialization can either work together, or in discordance
with each other to improve the students academic success, or contribute to their lack of

academic desire.
The research prior to this study render three main themes that contribute to social learning in the
case of this study. Students whose parents drink typically drink themselves; students with nondrinking parents typically do not drink themselves, and parents who value education are likely to
have students who value education. Social learning theory, when applied to these three ideas is
as follows: children are exposed to their parents drinking patters (primary socialization). As the
children get older, they see other adults drinking, either on television, when they go out to eat, or
any other institution. The drinking behaviors the children see reinforce their learned ideas from
previous primary socialization, The students get to college and believe that drinking is normal
for college students. Once at college, the students receive negative and positive sanctions for
This project will use social learning theory. When applied to this research, the theory is that
students learn their drinking behaviors from their parents or older siblings when they are young.
The children mimic these behaviors once they enter college. The students who learned to drink
more heavily from their parents will have behaviors that do not favor their academic
performance once they enter college. Students who grow up in a non-drinking household do not
learn drinking behaviors from their parents, therefore they are not distracted from their school
work. Along with social learning theory comes socialization. Socialization has two parts.
Primary socialization, meaning behaviors that are learned from the parents; and secondary
socialization or behaviors learned outside of the home. Just because a child does not grow up in a
drinking household does not mean they will not drink in college. There are many other social
forces that govern this. A few of these social forces are: Advertisements through media, friends,
ideas on sports and brotherhood. The list may go on. This research will use social learning theory
and try to examine the relationship between learned behaviors involving drinking, and attitudes
towards school.
This project will be a quantitative study. It is a cross-sectional study with a sample of primarily
University of Central Florida students (graduate and undergraduate) with a few other college
aged students from local colleges who were added into the sample for statistic significance. The
independent variable is students perceptions of drinking within their family and the dependent
variable is their attitudes towards academia. The survey brings up questions that may be sensitive
for the participants. Steps have been taken to help ensure validity among the results. To help
insure anonymity, various professors will be contacted and asked to distribute the survey to their
The survey does ask question in which validity becomes an issue. The first issue is the
participants are being asked to recall something of the past. This does not have much of a
solution. The survey asks sensitive questions. Before the survey, participants are warned of the
topics that may be sensitive. The participants are given contact information to the University of
Central Florida alcohol and substance abuse section of the health service department.
The survey begins with asking the students about their own drinking habits. It then proceeds to

ask about the drinking habits of their parents and siblings. In the survey, the questions are
arranged with the following options: never, once every few months, once a month, a few times a
month, once a week, two or three times a week, daily. The next set of questions refer to various
activities. These are asked with a seven point Likert scale. After the results were analyzed
in SPSS. The drinking questions will group anything once a week or less, and group it into one
variable. Twice a week or more will be a second variable. Likert scale questions will be the same
way; anything less than four is one variable, anything more than a five is another variable.
combining everything into a two variably nominal level of measurement will allow for easy
regression testing. The survey ends with the demographic questions. The full survey may be seen
in appendix I.
The research will use a binary logistic regression test. After results have been collected, variables
will be combined from broad categories into basic two variable categories. The survey asked
broader questions for the ease of the participant. A theme throughout the literature review (as
well as in the research of the following sociologists: Hildebrand, K. M., Johnson, D. J., & Bogle,
K. (2001)) is that heavy drinking is generally defined as five or more drinks more than twice a
week. Everything less than once a week was combined into one variable, and everything more
than twice a week was another variable. The combining everything into two variables allows a
regression test, because lighter drinking patterns is not a necessary variable to study for this
The research question was interested in one topic. Other variables were added into the survey to
measure other variables that may, or may not have, influenced the results once analyzed in SPSS.
The main ideas the survey asked are as follows:
How often do your parents drink?
How often did your older siblings drink?
How often do you drink?
What is your GPA?
How important is your body weight maintenance?
The project uses these variables to hypothesize the following:
(IV=Independent Variable. DV=Dependent Variable)
1. IV-how often did your parents drink alcohol?
DV- what is your GPA?
Ho (null)- Students GPAs are not affected by their parents drinking
Ha(alternative)- Students whose parents drink heavily will have lower GPAs then students
whose parents do not drink heavily.
2. IV- how often did your older siblings drink?
DV- what is your GPA?
Ho (null)- There is no difference in GPA between students whose siblings drink and do not drink
Ha (alternative)-. Students who have siblings who drink will have a lower GPA then students

whose siblings do not drink.

3. IV- What importance do you place upon health?
DV- What is your GPA
Ho (null)- There is no difference in GPA between students who maintain their health and do not
maintain their health.
Ha (alternative)- Students who maintain their health are likely to have better GPAs then students
who do not maintain a healthy body weight.
The variable referring to eating habits was split into two groups. The first grouping looked at
students who said they had a GPA of 3.5 or less. The second grouping recoded the variable into
students with a 3.6 or more grade point average.
Before the results of this may be analyzed, other information should be taken into consideration.
I had a small sample size, and not all the respondents answered all the questions. The frequency
is the actual number of respondents. The percent is the percent of respondents who answered the
question. The missing numbers were not included in this chart.Some students may not have
answered all of the questions. Other students may not have older siblings. The small sample size
of 171 University of Central Florida (UCF) students is not sufficient for this type of research.
The first two tests both fail to reject the null hypothesis. There is no relationship between
drinking within the family and attitudes towards academia; additionally there is no relationship
between siblings drinking and attitudes towards academia. The significance levels imply that the
ODDS and the Exp(B) both happened by chance. The research question about body weight
became an extra variable that was added into the survey to examine another variable that may
impact a student not drinking in order to be healthy. The first test on this variable recoded the
GPA into two groups. Students below and above an average of 3.5 and 3.6 GPA.
Both tests about drinking in the family said to fail to reject the null. This means that there is no
relationship between drinking within the family and academic performance. The test about body
weight both tested to fail to reject the null. This means that there is a relationship between the
two variables. The first test said that students who exercise are likely to have above a GPA of
3.5. Examining students who perform better in school, in the 3.6-4.0 range still have a significant
relationship with body maintenance, however, it goes the opposite way. The students who have
over a 3.6 GPA tend to exercise less.
Discussion and Conclusion
The test examining parent drinking patterns and sibling drinking patterns gave failed to reject the
null. The tests involving drinking within a family and the students academic performance both
say to fail to reject the null. Therefore, the test results occurred by chance because the level of
significance tested above .05. This could be a consequence of the small sample size. This test
may be done again. The change that should be made is the sample should be a quota sample of
350 UCF who have older siblings. This will ensure more accurate testing. The other change that

should be made is the survey should also be aimed at first and second year students. Older
students who may be seniors, or returning students may have lived out of their parents house
long enough for academic attitudes to change. The survey should also ask more in depth housing
questions. The survey used is a social research project and did not ask sufficient enough
questions and did not reach the intended sample size, thus testing insignificant results.
Another explanation to the results of the first two tests is that in some cases, social forces and
secondary socialization may be more powerful than primary socialization. Students may be born
into a high-achieving house hold, but not live up to the standard of their parents because social
pressure became more powerful than that of their parents. Another explanation is the idea of
freedom. Students entering college may be experiencing freedom for the first time, and in that
case, academic work slips from being a first priority. Before any conclusions could be claimed,
more research should be done on the drinking within a family study.
The test examined three hypothesizes with the third variable broken into two parts. The third test
is the only test that tested significant. The first test performed tested students who place a high
emphasizes on exercise and said they had a GPA of at most 3.0. The test said to reject the null,
this is interpreted as there is a significant relationship between exercise and grades. The second
test decided that using at most a 3.0 may not be sufficient to study students academic
performance, therefore I did a second test with the same data, this time testing anything above
3.5 against healthy eating habits. The second test said to reject the null for the null hypothesis.
This means that there is a significant relationship between students who maintain their body
weight and there GPA. The important thing to note here is that students who scored up to a 3.5
GPA placed a high emphases on maintaining a healthy body wait. The other group of students
who said they had a 3.6-4.0 GPA placed less importance on body weight.
The variable referring to body health was added into the survey to assess other random variable
that may influence a student drinking or not drinking. The literature review and the researcher
are not prepared for an entire analysis of what the relationship may be. A basic explanation is
that people who take care of their body, tend to take care of their intellect. There are several
outliers to this though. An explanation for the students who said they had the highest GPAs, they
probably do not have the time to devote to creating a healthy diet. People that are extraordinarily
healthy and active but do not show interest in academia. This entire concept should be explored
It is very possible that social forces are powerful enough to alter the results of any study such as
this one. The theoretical argument that the socialization process could offer an explanation to the
relationship between drinking in the family and education attitudes is invalid until a more
thorough research may be done. The relationship between eating healthy and higher GPAs must
be studied further.
The question asks students about how their home experiences involving alcohol may influence
their ideas on academia. People are exposed to massive numbers of ideologies every day that
may change their own ideas. Another variable that the survey did not take into consideration for
conceptualizing reasons is if the student or the students family uses illicit drugs at all. The most

important action that should be taken is ensure the intended sample size is reached, and insure
that the respondents parents and older siblings drink alcohol, then a more accurate study may be
Appendix I
This survey contains questions that may be sensitive. If you would like more information on
alcohol and drug abuse, you may contact the UCF alcohol and drug services at 407-823-5841.
The one taking the survey is welcome to stop at any time if any question makes her/him feel
uncomfortable. The survey has been sent out through a computer program and the researcher has
no way to identify who answers what questions.
Please check the box that applies. Only check one per question.
This first set of questions will be about you personally within the 12 months.
1. How frequently have you drank alcohol?
2. How frequently have you consumed enough drinks to get drunk?
3. How frequently have you blacked out from drinking?
In the next set of questions, drinking heavily will be defined as five or more drinks more than
twice a week.
4. Do you have older siblings?
5. (If yes) how often did your older siblings drink?
6. Did your parents drink or use heavily during your childhood?
7. (If yes) how often did your parents drink?
The next questions are about your attitudes towards drinking and school right now.
These questions are done on a 0-7 scale.
12. Do you have roommates who drink to the point it becomes a distraction?
15. What is your GPA?
16. How old are you?
17. What is your gender?
18. What is your major?

Appendix II
Work Cited
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retention among college freshmen: A longitudinal study.College Student Journal, 38(1),
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development of identity exploration in adolescence. Child development, 415-428.
Hildebrand, K. M., Johnson, D. J., & Bogle, K. (2001). Comparison of patterns of alcohol use
between high school and college athletes and non-athletes. College Student Journal, 35(3),
Kremer, M., & Levy, D. (2008). Peer effects and alcohol use among college students. The
Journal of Economic Perspectives, 22(3), 189-206
Labouvie, E., & Bates, M. E. (2002). Reasons for alcohol use in young adulthood: Validation of
a three-dimensional measure. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 63(2), 145-155.
LaBrie, J.W., Rodrigues, A., Schiffman., & Tawalbeh, S. (2007). Early alcohol initiation
increases risks related to drinking among college students. Journal of Child & adolescent
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Randolph, K. A., Archuleta, A., Smith, T., & Teasley, M. (2013). Beliefs about alcohol use
among youths during early adolescence. Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance
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Trice, H. M., & Beyer, J. M. (1977). A Sociological property of drugs; acceptance of users of
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and Drugs, 38(01), 58.

Yusko, D. A., Buckman, J. F., White, H. R., & Pandina, R. J. (2008). Alcohol, tobacco, illicit
drugs, and performance enhancers: A comparison of use by college student athletes and
nonathletes. Journal of American College Health, 57(3), 281-290.
Zimmerman, B. J. (1989). A social cognitive view of self-regulated academic learning. Journal
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