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Underage Drinking, Respect for the Law, and Fitting In: Were the Prophets of Prohibition Right? Hope Dischar & Perilou Goddard Department of Psychological.

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Presentation on theme: "Underage Drinking, Respect for the Law, and Fitting In: Were the Prophets of Prohibition Right? Hope Dischar & Perilou Goddard Department of Psychological."— Presentation transcript:

1 Underage Drinking, Respect for the Law, and Fitting In: Were the Prophets of Prohibition Right? Hope Dischar & Perilou Goddard Department of Psychological Science Northern Kentucky University

2 Prohibition ( ) challenged our notion of ourselves as law-abiding citizens Widespread disregard for the laws of Prohibition were thought to undermine respect for all law

3 More Prohibition fallout Law breaking went from marginalized to mainstream behavior

4 Parallels of Prohibition Today Underage drinking Nearly 10 million underage drinkers in 2010 (SAMHSA, 2010) Marijuana use Nearly 17.4 million past- month marijuana users in 2010 (SAMHSA, 2010)

5 Hypotheses Underage drinking and marijuana use would be associated with less respect for the law greater sense of “fitting in” with mainstream society

6 Participants and Procedure Participants 162 undergraduates 18 to 20 years old 105 females, 57 males 10% were African-American, 3% were Hispanic, and 79% were White Procedure Participants completed all measures anonymously in 50-minute live sessions (not online) Consent form, questionnaires assessing each of the relevant variables, and debriefing

7 Measuring Alcohol and Marijuana Use We created indices based on self-reported frequency of use 1: Have never used 2: Have not used in past year 3: Have used in past year but not in past month 4: Have used on fewer than 10 days in past month 5: Have used on 10 days or more in past month

8 Measuring Respect for the Law Respect for the Law Scale developed for this study to tap beliefs about the legitimacy of the law 16 statements rated on 7-point Likert scales 1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree Representative items Laws in the U.S. are best described as “of the people, by the people.” We have the ability to change the laws we don’t agree with by voting for officials who will represent our views. We are obligated to obey the laws because we help make the laws. Moderate internal consistency (α =.84)

9 Measuring the Sense of “Fitting In” Scale developed by Cozzarelli & Karafa (1998) to measure the similarities between individuals’ personal beliefs/values and their perception of American beliefs/values 9 statements rated on 7-point Likert scales 1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree Representative items I strongly identify with American values. I feel that many of my values are more or less universal. Moderate internal consistency (α =.80)

10 Alcohol Use National vs. NKU Data NSDUH data (2010) were calculated for persons aged 18 to 25 NKU data included ONLY 18- to 20-year olds Alcohol Lifetime Prevalence Alcohol 12-month Prevalence NSDUH data 85.7%78.7% NKU data 82.7%77.2%

11 Marijuana Use National vs. NKU Data It’s pretty clear that lots of NKU students like their cannabis! Marijuana Lifetime Prevalence Marijuana 12- month Prevalence NSDUH data 51.1 %29.8% NKU data 54.3%43.2%

12 Hypothesis 1: More frequent underage drinking and marijuana use will be associated with less respect for the law Correlation with Respect for Law Scale p value Underage Drinking Index Marijuana Use Index The hypothesis was partially supported: Marijuana use was significantly associated with less respect for the law, but underage drinking was not (at least not quite).

13 Hypothesis 2: More frequent underage drinking and marijuana use will be associated with a greater sense of “fitting in” Correlation with “Fitting In” Scale p value Underage Drinking Index.31<.001 Marijuana Use Index Again, our hypothesis was partially supported: More frequent underage drinking was significantly associated with greater feelings of “fitting in,” but marijuana use was not.

14 Conclusions The prophets of Prohibition were partially right Students who regularly violated the prohibition against marijuana showed significantly less respect for the law However, frequent underage drinkers did not Perhaps drinking by underage college students is so normative that they don’t even think of it as breaking the law

15 Our data about fitting in are consistent with this explanation The more frequently underage students drank, the more they felt they fit in with mainstream America Conclusions

16 Implications There is strong evidence that minimum legal drinking age laws have some benefits e.g., reduced motor vehicle deaths However, these laws clearly do not serve as effective deterrents to drinking for many young people Perhaps it’s time to think more creatively about policies to reduce drinking-related harms without focusing so much on the legality of the drinking age


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