Monday, August 4, 2008

Exciting News!

So, as it turns out, we only have one more data collection left to acquire. Currently, we are expecting to have a sample size of 1500 out of an eligible 3000. About a 50% return rate is not that bad. To get this return rate, i had to attend the CTOPS after dark event in order to recruit people into the study. This meant having a cheaply made poster that said "free ipod" and a bag of candy. It was well worth it though to see the future generation of Carolina students. Nothing made me feel happier and more old at the same time. I can't believe that it is my senior year, and here i am remarking on the incoming first year students. It seems just like yesterday that we pulled into the parking lot of Ehringhaus.

Now, living off campus and conducting my research study, the grounds are laid for me to pursue a career in psychology.

Tomorrow i meet with my advisor, and we are going to begin running analysis. I am excited and eager to see the current trends. Another component to my study is going to be underway as we plan the follow up to this study. We'd like to find a nice sample for the follow up as well to see how the college transition truly affects individuals drinking behaviors. I am incredibly excited!

More to come soon!


Friday, July 25, 2008

Been a While

Sorry i haven't updated this in a while. I have been out of town for a few weeks.

My numbers have improved greatly, and i will have a fuller post that will help explain everything in better detail.


Monday, June 16, 2008

So far this project has been quite stressful. We are in to the third week of Carolina's Orientation program. I am juggling this job along with another, and it has been quite a job to get everything together.

I also am juggling trying to be persuasive to the Orientation Leaders and fighting being annoying. I'm taking them cookies and rice crispy treats to make them work harder! It's tough knowing both sides of an issue. On the one hand I know that they have a million things going on, but on the other, I really need the best possible return on my data that is possible. Right now, we are at a 30% return rate. This rate needs to reach 75% in order to be the best possible representation of the UNC population.

Of the surveys that i have looked at, there seems to be some trends that will come out statistically significant. It's too early to tell for now though!! Look soon for the first round of analyses!


Monday, May 26, 2008

Information about my project!

Hey all,
Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and find out a little more about my research project. I'll just write a bit to start out my blogging.

At first, I was tad intimidated when i found out that my fellow CBR recipients were traveling far and wide to explore the depths of other cultures and finding themselves in the perils that come with traveling abroad. I knew that i was going to be spending my summers in Chapel Hill. However, I soon realized that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around. Indeed, it takes all kinds of researchers to find solutions to many of the problems that we find ourself facing as humanity today.

One of the most salient problems comes in the form of alcohol use. There are only a handful of people that still recall the days when selling alcohol was illegal. Prohibition once was the law of the land in the United States. From 1920-1933 in the United States, the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption was banned. Faced with pressure from the Great Depression, law makers repealed this amendment in order to stimulate revenue for the country.

It is without a doubt today that alcohol sales make up for a large part of our economy. However, this revenue does not come without downfalls. In fact, there is probably little argument that the abuse of alcohol is a widespread problem. I want you to try this exercise. Think for a second about people that you may know that are affected by alcohol abuse. It may very well be yourself. If not you directly, I bet that if you think hard enough, you will think of people that are affected. It could be a belligerent dad, an outcast teen, a single mother--the list goes on. The reality is, alcohol is all around us.

If you haven't had to face alcohol before, you must not be a college student. Before setting foot onto a college campus, potential budding scholars are inundated with the message of alcohol use. In fact, turn no further than the Hollywood popular media. Ask almost anyone what the main plot of the movie Animal House is, and they will respond resolutely with "alcohol." Indeed, before arriving to campus my first day as a Tarheel, I knew that I was going to be facing the pressures of alcohol. I knew that I didn't have to drink to make friends, but I found that many of my fellow first year students thought this was the case. In fact, almost my entire hall had bought into the myth that underage binge drinking was the way to ensure companionship in college.

By my 21st birthday, I came to realize that alcohol abuse was something that was very important to me. I couldn't shake the feeling that when I saw people being overly drunk in public, they were risking their very lives. In fact, from Thursday Night to Sunday night in Chapel Hill, many students engage in a game that they don't even realize they are playing. They are playing roulette. They are trading in their health and safety for a good buzz or a temporary escape from their problems. Alcohol abuse is salient and serious.

Something must be done to dispel the myth that binge drinking is the normal behavior on college campus. Indeed, the average Carolina student (age 21+) only drink 4 beverages in a single night. Those that go above and beyond this number are part of the minority. Why then, is there the unnecessary pressure to engage in drinking to the point of blackout or sickness? It is a phenomena known as false consensus effects.

False consensus suggests that if a person engages in particular behavior, he or she is likely to think that a lot more people engage in that same behavior. In other words, if a student engages in binge drinking (which is defined as 4 or more drinks in a short time for females and 5 or more drinks in a short amount of time for males), then that student likely thinks that a lot more people are engaging in this behavior as well. It is this process that leads to the group consensus that everyone is going to be drinking to the point of getting drunk.

My research sets out to help understand this process. As a result, i will be measuring the incoming first year students attitudes regarding alcohol use. I will be gathering information as these students arrive on campus for their orientation session. Every student (ca. 4,000) will receive my survey (thanks to the Office of the Dean of Students for helping me print all these surveys). It is completely voluntary, and no one will ever be forced to complete the survey. Throughout the summer, i will update this blog with ongoing findings. I hope that you will check back regularly as i set out to help fight a crisis that this community is facing. We must work as a community of achieving Tarheels to fight the problem of alcohol abuse on our campus.

Any correspondence with me may be sent to