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Thomas Library

Honors Thesis Archive

Author Luke Ewald
Title Effects of Sensation Seeking and Athletic Involvement on Substance Use in College Students
Department Psychology
Advisor Clifford Brown, Jeffrey Brookings, Fernando Blanco
Year 2011
Honors University Honors
Full Text View Thesis (209 KB)
Abstract The present study addresses the issue of substance use behaviors among college students, particularly those engaged in varsity and recreational athletics, and how possible associations may be moderated by the effects of sensation seeking. Past studies have analyzed college athletes by gender in relation to substance use behaviors such as alcohol and prescription medications. The present study aims to expand the scope of the literature by analyzing athletic involvement in relation to involvement in varsity athletics and involvement in recreational athletics such as intramural or club sports. The present study also analyzes substance use by including the measurement of use of a wide range of substances from legal to illicit drugs. The present data are based on information collected from 84 students taking spring courses at Wittenberg University for the spring of 2011. The participants filled out 2 separate survey instruments, a shortened version of the YRBS, which assesses risk behavior involvement in a number of different areas such as drugs and sex (only substance use was analyzed) as well as athletic involvement, and the Sensation Seeking Scale, which assesses levels of risk taking in terms of a desire to seek thrills. Scale totals assessing risk involvement and sensation seeking were created from the data. Dichotomous variables assessing varsity athletics and intramural/club sports participation were also created. Correlation analyses revealed that sensation seeking was positively associated with all substance risk variables. Analyses of variance revealed for males reported higher levels of substance use and that involvement in intramural or club sports, especially for females, was a protective factor against substance use. The results provide interesting insight into how gender differences and gender by athletics interactions indicate risks and protective factors for males and females, respectively.

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