home News Drinking to belong: Students and low self-esteem.

Drinking to belong: Students and low self-esteem.

It’s the worst kept secret in Ireland that alcohol plays a significant role in the lives of students, whether one partakes in the social pastime or just observes their peers doing so. College is a challenging time for all students, rife with opportunities, successes and some failures; it can take a toll on a person’s self-esteem. Alcohol abuse and low self-esteem have been linked by leading psychologists for years, however, Hamilton & deHart’s study in ‘Self and Identity’ focuses on how students with low self-esteem seem to indulge more than confident peers when it comes to the consumption of alcohol.

Hamilton DeHart conducted their study by means of manipulation testing on 195 students who had their self-esteem & confidence evaluated prior to the experiment. All 195 students had been asked to think about their best friend, and the aspects of their lives they had kept secret from their best friend. The students were then presented with bogus articles in two groups: the first article was about how secrets between friends can cause conflicts that lead to a breakup of the friendship, and the second article was about the secret aspects of ourselves with no mention of friendship.

All of the students were asked how many drinks they had consumed the following night with other friends and not their best friends. The results showed that those with low self-esteem had consumed more alcohol having read the bogus article about secrecy in friendships ‘’they appeared to seek out positive social interactions with others to repair the threat to the most important friendship’’. Group one, who had been shown the bogus article on friendship, consumed an average of 11 drinks while the second group consumed an average of six.

These results speak for themselves, and suggest that Hamilton DeHart’s idea that the threat to belonging is more prominent in students’ with low self-esteem seems accurate. Upon reading this article I conducted a survey on UCC’s campus with 195 students. Two questions were asked: Q.1 Do you drink? And Q.2 why do you drink? Instant answers were demanded so nobody had time to compose a well thought answer. Question 2 made 100% of those asked uncomfortable however, the answers under pressure seem to back up Hamilton DeHart’s findings. Answers such as ‘’I love the social aspects,” “all my friends drink so I feel I should too” or “I feel silly in a pub if I’m not drinking’’