Engs, R.C., Hanson, D. J. & Isralowitz, R.E. Drinking Problems Among Jewish College Students in the United States and Israel. The Journal of Social Psychology.128(3). 415-41

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Drinking Problems Among Jewish College
Students in the United States and Israel

RUTH C. ENGS
Department of Applied Health Science
Indiana UniversitY

DAVID J. HANSON
Department of Sociology
State University of New York at Potsdam

RICHARD E. ISRALOWITZ
Department of Social Work
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel


RESEARCH indicates that, although a high proportion of Jews are light drinkers, relatively few are heavy drinkers. Research also indicates that the alcohol abuse and alcoholism rate among Jews is lower than that of other major Western religious groups, particularly Catholics and Protestants (Engs & Hanson, 1985; O'Brien & Chafetz, 1982). Evidence also suggests, however, that drinking patterns and problems tend to change as individuals interact with those individuals of religious or cultural backgrounds that stress different drinking norms (Greeley, McCready, & Theisen, 1980).
 

The purpose of the present research was to examine differences that may exist between Jewish college students in the United States and Israel regarding their drinking problems. We assumed that students in the United States have a higher level of exposure to groups from different drinking traditions and norms than students in Israel. Consequently, Jewish college students in the United States were expected to experience a higher degree of anomie in terms of drinking norms. Because such anomie is associated with drinking problems (Hanson, 1972), we believed that Jewish college students in the United States would experience higher rates of drinking problems than their Israeli counterparts (Israiowitz, 1987).
 

An anonymous, precoded instrument was used, which included demographic items, questions regarding the consumption of alcohol, and 17

415

items concerning possible negative consequences of drinking, to explore our hypothesis. The 17 items asked whether respondents had, within the last year, had a hangover, vomited from drinking, driven a car after drinking, driven a car after having too much to drink, driven a car while drinking, come to class after drinking, cut a class after drinking, missed class because of a hangover, been arrested for driving while intoxicated, been criticized by a date because of drinking, received a lower academic grade or mark because of drinking, been in trouble with the law because of drinking, lost a job because of drinking, received a lower academic grade or mark because of drinking, been in trouble with college because of drinking too much, been in a fight after drinking, thought they might have a drinking problem, or if they had "damaged property, pulled a false fire alarm, or other such behavior after drinking."
 

The questionnaire was administered to undergraduate students at 72 colleges throughout the United States in 1984 and 1985. The 150 Jews, who constituted slightly over 3.507o of the total number of students surveyed (N = 4,266), provided the sample of Jewish students from the United States. Ninety-one percent (N = 137) of the Jews were drinkers. A Hebrew version of the questionnaire was administered to undergraduate students at BenGurion University of the Negev (Beer-Sheva) in 1986. A quota sampling method was used to represent the university's major academic subdivisions. A total of 156 students completed the questionnaire, 90076 (N = 140) of whom were Jewish. Eighty-seven percent (N = 122) of the Israeli Jewish students were drinkers.
 

Significant differences were found between the drinking behavior of the two samples. Specifically, it was more common for students in the United States to have a hangover (X2 = 14.93, p < .001), drive a car after having several drinks (X2 = 10.71, p < .01), drive while drinking (X2= 10.70, p < .01), cut class after drinking (X2 = 3 .99, p < .05), and miss class because of a hangover (X2 = 9.35, p < .01). The exposure and interaction with students from different drinking traditions and mores may be an important factor differentiating Jewish college students in the United States from their Israeli counterparts. The only other significant difference between students in the United States and Israel was that a higher percentage of Israeli students reported being criticized by someone they were dating because of their drinking  (X2 = 16.70, p < .001). This may be a result of the cultural orientation toward problem drinking in that country.
 


REFERENCES


Engs, R. C., & Hanson, D. 1. (1985). The drinking patterns and problems of college students: 1983. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 3](1), 65-83.

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Greeley, A. M., McCready, W. C., & Theisen, G. (1980). Ethnic drinking subcultures. New York: Praeger.

Hanson, D. J. (1972). Norm qualities and deviant drinking behavior. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Syracuse University.

Isralowitz, R. E. (1987). Israeli college students' drinking problems: An exploratory study. Psychological Reports, 60, 324-326.

O'Brien, R., & Chafetz, M. (Eds.). (1982). The encyclopedia of alcoholism. New York: Green Spring.

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