Cultural influences and alcohol use

Miguel Javier Humara, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between cultural identity and drinking behavior among a group of African-American college students in a culturally diverse urban public university in the North-east. Cultural identity was conceptualized through the constructs of racial identity (measured through the Black Racial Identity Attitudes Scale - Short Form) and acculturation (measured by the African American Acculturation Scale - Short Form) both of which are based on racial reference group orientation. Drinking behavior was assessed by the amount of alcohol consumed during the two weeks and four weeks preceding data collection as well as the presence of binge drinking behavior. The situations in which an individual consumes alcohol interpersonal (socialization) and intrapersonal (coping) were also examined. It was hypothesized that individuals who identified closely with their culture would consume alcohol in patterns that were reflective of their culture's attitudes. That is to say, individuals who identified with African-American would drinking in a manner reflective of those cultural values which are prohibitive of drinking for socialization purposes. Those individuals who identified more closely with Caucasian culture would drink for socialization purposes. In addition, it was hypothesized that cultural identity would be a stronger predictor of drinking behavior then the demographic variables of gender, age, SES, and religious affiliation. Results indicate that the concepts of racial identity and acculturation had some relationship with drinking behavior. However, many of the relationships were not clear since they ran counter to racial identity and acculturation theory. Additionally, gender was found to be a stronger predictor of drinking behavior than cultural identity but none of the other demographic variables were a stronger predictor of drinking behavior than African-American acculturation. Further examination of cultural identity is warranted since the sample is thought to have been unique thus accounting for the lack of significant findings. Limitations of the scales and suggestions for future research are offered.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Social psychology|Public health|Behaviorial sciences|African Americans

Recommended Citation

Humara, Miguel Javier, "Cultural influences and alcohol use" (2002). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3037220.