Printer Friendly

Dressing in costume and the use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs by college students.

INTRODUCTION

Halloween is a major social event on many college campuses, one often celebrated by dressing in costume. Hill and Relethford (1979) found that approximately 75% of the students on two northeastern campuses participated in Halloween activities, and of those, 85% wore a costume.

In spite of the extensive participation of college students in Halloween activities, previous researchers have not addressed various issues related to the celebration, such as the use of alcohol and other drugs. Thus, this study was designed to investigate the use of Halloween costumes by college students and its relationship with the use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. Also investigated was whether alcohol and other drug use was related to the extent to which the students' identity was disguised, and whether they masqueraded with a group.

Dress behavior and its relationship to the self has been studied extensively (Stone, 1962; Eicher, 1981; Joseph, 1986; Wilson, 1985; Jasper & Roach-Higgins, 1988; Miller, 1990; Miller, Jasper, & Hill, 1991). George Herbert Mead laid the groundwork for the study of the self, and his findings were built upon by Stone (1962) and Goffman (1959), who related the self to dress and appearance. Eicher (1981), building on Stone's work, proposed a theoretical framework for viewing dress and the communication of the parts of the self. Eicher proposed that individuals dress for reality, fun, and fantasy, while communicating the public, intimate, and secret selves, respectively. Thus, the use of alcohol and other drugs is only one type of behavior that may be related to dressing in costume. In another study by Miller, Jasper, and Hill (1991), costume was studied in relation to its effect on the perception of identity and role at Halloween.

The use of alcohol and other drugs by college students is well documented (Tobias & Wax, 1973; Kandel, 1980; Wechsler & Rohman, 1981; Meyer, 1986; Patterson, Meyers, & Gallant, 1988; Carlson & Davis, 1988; Carmody, 1990). Various aspects of the use of alcohol and drugs within the college setting have been examined, including drinking patterns among college fraternities (Kodman & Sturmak, 1984), peer pressure associated with drinking (Shore & Rivers, 1985), college adjustment problems and attitudes toward drinking (Kleinke & Hinrichs, 1983), and demographic variables and recreational substance use among college students (Carlson & Davis, 1988).

In addition, governmental studies regarding the use of alcohol and other drugs have been conducted. They show that in 1988, 90% of persons 18 to 25 years of age had tried alcohol, and 65% were considered current users. Fifty-six percent of persons in the same age group had tried marijuana, and 15% were considered current users. (Current users were defined as those who used drugs at least once during the month prior to the study.) Other drugs reported as having been used at least once by those 18 to 25 years of age were hallucinogens (14%), cocaine (20%), stimulants (11%), and sedatives (5%) (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990, p. 122). Clifford, Edmundson, Koch, and Dodd (1989) contend that "although estimates concerning the prevalence of various forms of substance abuse vary considerably, it is critical to note that even the more conservative estimates indicate a major public health problem". However, research linking the use of alcohol and other drugs with college students' dress and their participation at special occasions, such as Halloween, is lacking. Yet the way students choose to present themselves has been documented as a reflection of the way they wish to identify their role within the college setting (Lind & Roach-Higgins, 1985). In addition, the way others act toward a college student is influenced by that student's dress and appearance. Thus, the way college students attire themselves shapes both their behavior and that of persons who interact with them (Bushman, 1988).

When students dress in a Halloween costume, they often gain anonymity, which may provide them with an opportunity to use alcohol and other drugs. As Joseph (1986) notes, "the characteristic of a costume that differentiates it from all other forms of apparel is its open proclamation of departures in behavior. Whereas ordinary dress and uniforms declare their wearer's group affiliations and statuses, costume announces that the wearer is stepping out of character and into a new constellation of imaginary or unusual social relationships". Therefore, the present study investigated the extent to which college students use alcohol and other drugs within a "party type" setting such as Halloween and whether their choice of dress influences their drug-related behavior.

Within the college setting, experimentation with and acceptance of alcohol and other drugs are often associated with social activities, such as parties, where peer pressure can contribute to the use of these substances. In addition, one might expect college students to be more likely to use alcohol and other drugs within a group setting. However, Wechsler and Rohman (1981), in a study of drug use among college students, did not find a relationship between marijuana use and participation in extracurricular activities, such as special interest clubs, sororities and fraternities, or sports.

Since dress is a crucial part of the way individuals express themselves and their role in society, there may be a relationship between dress and other types of behavior, including the use of alcohol and other drugs on Halloween. This study was designed to investigate the following questions: If college students dress in costume for Halloween, how likely are they to use alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs? If college students mask their identity, how likely are they to use alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs? If college students masquerade with a group, how likely are they to use alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs?

METHOD

A total of 1,253 students (805 females and 448 males) from two colleges in upstate New York participated. This sample included 190 freshmen, 414 sophomores, 305 juniors, 233 seniors, and 89 others (graduate students or former students). Of this sample, 16% were 18 years old or younger, 52% were 19 to 20 years old, and 32% were 21 or older.

A questionnaire entitled "Halloween Activities" was administered each year between 1978 and 1982 to students in social science classes. The data presented here are part of a larger study that addresses both students' behavior on Halloween and their perceptions of Halloween. Demographic information was also elicited by the questionnaire. The .05 alpha level was set for all analyses.

RESULTS

Costume

Students were asked, "Did you wear a costume?" "Did you celebrate Halloween this year by drinking?" "Did you celebrate Halloween this year by smoking pot?" "Did you celebrate Halloween this year by using any other drugs?" (Other drugs reported on the survey included hallucinatory mushrooms, speed, and LSD.) A chi-square statistical procedure was used to test whether a relationship existed between the wearing of costumes and the use of alcohol and other drugs. Significant associations were found between the presence or absence of a costume and the use of alcohol (||chi~.sup.2~ = 34.20, df = 1, p |is less than~ .01). The data also show that about 85% of those who participated in Halloween activities said they used alcohol on that occasion. There were no significant associations between wearing a costume and smoking marijuana or using other drugs.

Disguise of Identity

Students were asked, "Did your costume hide or disguise your identity?" A chi-square statistical procedure was used to test whether a relationship existed between disguising identity and alcohol and other drug use. The data indicate no significant associations between disguise and use of alcohol (||chi~.sup.2~ = 2.407, df = 1, p = .121), marijuana (||chi~.sup.2~ = .083, df = 1, p = .773), and other drugs (||chi~.sup.2~ = 1.265, df = 1, p = .261). (See Table 2.)

Masquerading with a Group

Students were asked, "Did the theme of your costume involve a group of masqueraders? "A chi-square statistical procedure was used to test whether a relationship existed between masquerading with a group and alcohol and other drug use. A comparison of those who masqueraded with a group and those who did not revealed significant associations between marijuana use and masquerading with a group (||chi~.sup.2~ = 7.640, df = 1, p |is less than~ .01), as well as between other drug use and masquerading with a group (||chi~.sup.2~ = 18.872, df = 1, p |is less than~ .01). (See Table 3.) It should be noted that those who masqueraded with a group were less likely to use marijuana and other drugs than were those who did not. There were no significant associations between alcohol use and masquerading with a group.
Table 1. Halloween costumes and alcohol, marijuana and other
drug use by college students.
 Drinking Alcohol
 Yes No Total
Costume % 72.39 10.06 82.45
 n (763) (106) (869)
Participated, % 12.43 5.12 17.55
but no costume n (131) (54) (185)
Total % 84.82 15.18 100.0
 n (894) (160) (1054)
Pearson Chi-Square = 34.20, df = 1, p = .001
Cramer's V = .180
 Smoking Marijuana
 Yes No Total
Costume % 35.62 46.76 82.38
 n (374) (491) (865)
Participated, % 6.67 10.95 17.62
but no costume n (70) (115) (185)
Total % 42.29 57.71 100.0
 n (444) (606) (1050)
Pearson Chi-Square = 1.820, df = 1, p = .177
Cramer's V = .041
 Using Other Drugs
 Yes No Total
Costume % 17.19 65.33 82.52
 n (180) (684) (864)
Participated, % 3.06 14.42 17.48
but no costume n (32) (151) (183)
Total % 20.25 79.75 100.0
 n (212) (835) (1047)
Pearson Chi-Square = 1.048, df = 1, p = .306
Cramer's V = .031
Table 2. Halloween costumes that hide or disguise identity and
alcohol, marijuana and other drug use by college students.
 Drinking Alcohol
 Yes No Total
Hide or % 25.46 4.57 30.03
Disguise identity n (223) (40) (263)
Did not hide or % 61.99 7.99 69.98
Disguise identity n (543) (70) (613)
Total % 87.45 12.56 100.0
 n (766) (110) (876)
Pearson Chi-Square = 2.407, df = 1, p = .121
Cramer's V = .052
 Smoking Marijuana
 Yes No Total
Hide or % 13.07 16.97 30.04
Disguise identity n (114) (148) (262)
Did not hide or % 29.70 40.25 69.95
Disguise identity n (259) (351) (610)
Total % 42.78 57.22 100.0
 n (373) (499) (872)
Pearson Chi-Square = .083, df = 1, p = .773
Cramer's V = .009
 Using Other Drugs
 Yes No Total
Hide or % 7.01 23.10 30.11
Disguise identity n (61) (201) (262)
Did not hide or % 13.91 55.98 69.89
Disguise identity n (121) (487) (608)
Total % 20.92 79.08 100.0
 n (182) (688) (870)
Pearson Chi-Square = 1.265, df = 1, p = .261
Cramer's V = .038
Table 3. Masquerading with a group in Halloween costumes and
alcohol, marijuana and other drug use by college students.
 Drinking Alcohol
 Yes No Total
Masquerading % 26.54 3.19 29.73
with a group n (241) (29) (270)
Did not masquerade % 59.25 11.01 70.26
with a group n (538) (100) (638)
Total % 85.79 14.21 100.0
 n (779) (129) (908)
Pearson Chi-Square = 3.788, df = 1, p = .052
Cramer's V = .064
 Smoking Marijuana
 Yes No Total
Masquerading % 10.62 19.36 29.98
with a group n (96) (175) (271)
Did not masquerade % 31.75 38.27 70.02
with a group n (287) (346) (633)
Total % 42.37 57.63 100.0
 n (383) (521) (904)
Pearson Chi-Square = 7.640, df = 1, p = .006
Cramer's V = .091
 Using Other Drugs
 Yes No Total
Masquerading % 3.44 26.50 29.94
with a group n (31) (239) (270)
Did not masquerade % 16.96 53.10 70.06
with a group n (153) (479) (632)
Total % 20.40 79.60 100.0
 n (184) (718) (902)
Pearson Chi-Square = 18.872, df = 1, p = .001
Cramer's V = .144


DISCUSSION

These findings indicate that, for college students, dressing in costume is associated with the use of alcohol. However, it is important to note that this does not imply a cause-effect relationship. In addition, although this association was found to be highly significant, the correlation coefficient revealed that the predictive power was low (r = .180).

No significant associations were found between wearing a costume and smoking marijuana or using other drugs. A possible explanation for this finding is that these other drugs are used less frequently than alcohol, or perhaps their illegality inhibited the reporting of their use.

Since a holiday atmosphere is associated with Halloween, and college students often use alcohol and other drugs at this time, they may make the assumption that a holiday atmosphere will be present whenever alcohol and other drugs are used. This in turn could lead to repeated use of alcohol and other drugs in an attempt to simulate the atmosphere of Halloween in other situations. To address this problem, educators could emphasize that dressing in costume can be a positive social experience--one that allows for creative expression of the self--and that alcohol and other drugs are not necessary to enhance this experience. According to Eicher's framework, the individual could be dressing for both fun and fantasy when wearing a Halloween costume. An extended framework was offered by Miller (1990) to accommodate this overlap.

This study also found significant associations between masquerading with a group and smoking marijuana and using other drugs. Of those who used these substances, a greater number did not masquerade with a group. Due to their illegality, perhaps the use of these substances is considered a more solitary behavior.

REFERENCES

Bushman, B. J. (1988). The effects of apparel on compliance: A field experiment with a female authority figure. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 14(3), 459-467.

Carlson, B. R., & Davis, J. L. (1988). Demographic variables and recreational substance use among college students. Journal of Drug Education, 18(1), 71-79.

Carmody, D. (1990, March 8). Alcohol: The ins and outs, survey: Campus drinking habits changing. Wisconsin State Journal, p. 6A.

Clifford, P. R., Edmundson, E., Koch, W. R., & Dodd, B. G. (1989). Discerning the epidemiology of drug use among a sample of college students. Journal of Drug Education, 19(3), 209-223.

Eicher, J. B. (1981). Influences of changing resources on clothing, textiles, and the quality of life: Dressing for reality, fun, and fantasy. In Combined Proceedings, Eastern, Central, and Western Regional Meetings of Association of College Professors of Textiles and Clothing, pp. 36-41.

Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Doubleday.

Hill, D. R., & Relethford, J. H. (1979). Halloween in a college town. Unpublished manuscript, State University of New York, Oneonta.

Jasper, C. R., & Roach-Higgins, M. E. (1988). Role conflict and conformity in dress. Social Behaviour and Personality, 16(2), 227-240.

Joseph, N. (1986). Uniforms and nonuniforms: Communicating through clothing. New York: Greenwood Press.

Kandel, D. B. (1980). Drug and drinking behavior among youth. Annual Review of Sociology, 6, 235-285.

Kleinke, C. L., & Hinrichs, C. A. (1983). College adjustment problems and attitudes toward drinking reported by feminine, androgynous, and masculine college women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 7(4), 373-382.

Kodman, F., & Sturmak, M. (1984). Drinking patterns among college fraternities: A report. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 29(3), 65-69.

Lind, C., & Roach-Higgins, M. E. (1985). Fashion, collective adoption, and the social-political symbolism of dress. In M. R. Solomon (Ed.), The psychology of fashion. Lexington: Heath/Lexington Books.

Meyer, T. J. (1986, July 16). One in three college students tries cocaine, study finds; Bennett urges presidents to crack down on drugs. The Chronicle of Higher Education, p. 1.

Miller, K. A. (1990). Dress as symbol of the self and its relationship to selected behaviors. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Miller, K. A., Jasper, C. R., & Hill, D. R. (1991). Costume and the perception of identity and role. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 72 (June), 807-813.

Patterson, E. W., Meyers, G., & Gallant, D. M. (1988). Patterns of substance use on a college campus: A 14-year comparison study. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 14(2), 237-246.

Shore, E. R., & Rivers, P. C. (1985). Peer pressure to drink: Implications for university administration and planning. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 30(3), 22-31.

Stone, G. P. (1962). Appearance and the self. In A. M. Rose (Ed.), Human behavior and social processes: An interactionist approach. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Tobias, J. J., & Wax, J. (1973). Youthful drinking patterns in the suburbs. Adolescence, 8(29), 113-118.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1990). Statistical abstract of the United States (110th edition). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Wechsler, H., & Rohman, M. E. (1981). Patterns of drug use among New England college students. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 8(1), 27-37.

Wilson, E. (1985). Adorned in dreams: Fashion and modernity. London: Virago Press.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Libra Publishers, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Miller, Kimberly A.; Jasper, Cynthia R.; Hill, Donald R.
Publication:Adolescence
Date:Mar 22, 1993
Words:2777
Previous Article:Perceived actions of parents and attitudes of youth.
Next Article:Student responsibility for learning.
Topics:

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters