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CHAPTER IV PRESENTATION AND INTERPRETATION OF THE DATA PDF Print E-mail
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Books - Pot Smoking and Illegal Conduct
Written by Mohammad Nawaz   
Friday, 25 January 2013 00:00

Introduction

A number of general propositions and operational hypotheses was derived from the theoretical perspective described in Chapter I. Each hypothesis predicted a specific relationship between variables. In stating the hypotheses, systematic controls were spelled out in Chapter II. Multivariate analyses, involving systematic controls, were performed to test the hypotheses. Several separate analyses were performed on the subsamples of males, females, and high, medium, and low socio-economic statuses. Moreover, the data were analyzed for marihuana-using subsamples: total marihuana users, male marihuana users, female marihuana users, and marihuana users of high, medium, and low socio-economic status. Examination of the data on all the subsamples revealed only a few systematic and/or marked differences in the path models.* Perhaps, for all subsamples, the same sets of underlying social conditions and processes affected the involvement in legitimate and illegal conduct. Thus data are presented for the total sample mainly.

This chapter is devoted to the presentation and interpretation of the data. In testing the operational hypotheses, both the statistical and the substantive significance of relationships are considered. The hypotheses are accepted when the relationships are statistically significant at the .01 level. In terms of the substantive significance, the size of the partial relationship is understood according to the following arbitrary criterion:

.08 or less    =    Generally weak or modest
.09 - .11    =    Moderately strong
.12 or more =    Generally strong

In interpreting the observed relationships, an effort has been made to identify some of the social conditions and processes underlying the students' involvement in legitimate and illegal conduct. Generally, the interpretations of the data are advanced in terms of patterns and configurations of the observed relationships among several variables appearing in the path models. Moreover, some plausible, alternative explanations are examined.

Multiple regressions and path analyses are used to organize the data. In path diagrams the arranged variables indicate a tentative temporal order in which they operate to affect the succeeding variables.** Data indicating the gross,*** direct,**** and indirect***** effects of each antecedent independent variable on all dependent variables are presented in tabular form.

* In comparing subsamples the unstandardized multiple regression coefficients (b) were examined. Since the variances of independent variables may change across subsamples, comparing subsamples in terms of standardized multiple regression coefficients is sometimes misleading?

**    In alternative models one might want to assume a different causal ordering of these variables. We will assume that the causal effects of variables in our models are unidirectional from left to right.

***    Zero-order Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients (r).

**** Standardized multiple regression coefficients (Betas).

***** These indirect effects were calculated by using Duncan's theorem of path analysis:rii=*q P1 ri'where i and j denote two variables in the system, and the index q runs over all variables from which paths lead directly to x". 2 We did not calculate beyond the indirect effects via one variable. Also, we did not calculate effects operating backward ("reinforcing effects"). Generally, calculating the indirect effects via two and three variables would have changed our results very little.

Coefficients of alienation* and R2 are listed in the tables and path diagrams. Standardized multiple regression coefficients (Betas) of .05 or more are presented in the path diagrams.

Data for subsamples are presented where systematic and sufficiently large differences are noted. Where involvement in marihuana use is treated as an independent variable the results are presented for the total marihuana-using subsample.

Detailed data on some variables are presented mainly to highlight the relative contribution of their subdimensions in producing variance in the dependent variables, and to explore the extent to which the paths in terms of summated measures are consistent with the paths in terms of their constituent items.

TESTING HYPOTHESES AND INTERPRETATION OF THE DATA Operational Hypothesis 1

It is commonplace to suggest that university students show differential commitment to peer-group and parental expectations? In some matters they identify more with peer than with parental standards, in other affairs they tend toward parents rather than peers. In this study three items were used to investigate the extent to which students were peer and parent oriented. The responses are recorded in Table 14. The data indicate that an overwhelming majority (90.8%) of the sample is peer rather than parent oriented with respect to one item. The sample is divided almost equally in their responses to the other two items. Perhaps the large difference in responses to item 2 reflects the specific content of that item rather than the general commitment of students to peer-group standards. Probably items 1 and 3 are relatively better measures of peer versus parent orientation.

Operational Hypotheses 2 - 10

* A functional equivalent of the "path coefficient" from exogenous variables.

How does peer-group orientation affect the involvement in, and the institutionalization of, common group activities? How does the involvement in common group activities influence the institutionalization of these common activities? Operational hypotheses 2 - 10 suggest the quality of the relationships among these variables. The data in Table 15 and path diagram 1 indicate that all total (direct + indirect) relationships among independent and dependent variables are strong, and in the predicted direction. It is clear that peer-group orientation affects students' involvement in informal youth culture activities (P = 17), the institutionalization of informal youth culture activities (P -= .11), and the institutionalization of marihuana use (P = .20). Expectedly, there is a negative relationship between peer-group orientation and involvement in formal group activities (P = -.13). Involvement in informal youth culture activities has strong positive effects on the institutionalization of informal youth culture activities (P = .24), and on the institutionalization of marihuana use (P = .12). However, involvement in formal group activities negatively affects the institutionalization of informal youth culture activities (P = -.10), and the institutionalization of marihuana use (P = -.11). Institutionalization of informal youth culture activities positively affects the institutionalization of marihuana use (P = .27). Over and above its direct effects peer-group orientation has a considerable effect on the dependent variables through involvement in informal youth culture activities. Involvement in informal youth culture activities has additional negative effects on the dependent variables through involvement in formal group activities. Taken together these data illustrate a process whereby identification with peer-group expectations affects involvement in common formal, and informal group activities, which in turn affect the actor's perception of sanctions for failure to participate in common group activities.

The negative relationships between involvement in formal group activities and the institutionalization of informal group activities and the institutionalization of marihuana use confirm our theoretical notion that participation in formal group activities characterized by "explicit organizational rules", impersonality and social distance, systematically negates the institutionalization of typical informal social activities which involve emotionally charged relationships with intimate friends. Informal social activities, e.g., dating, drinking, partying and pot smoking are neither compatible with formal group activities, nor are they functionally relevant for those who actively engage in formal group activities. Therefore, those who are highly involved in formal group activities are less likely to perceive that failure to participate in these informal social activities makes them unpopular. On the other hand, those who are highly involved in informal social activities certainly perceive a loss of popularity among their peers as a consequence of their failure to participate in these activities. From our analysis it can be inferred that the extent to which certain informal, social practices, e.g., drinking, partying, pot smoking, etc., become institutionalized among university students depends on (1) the students' identification with peer-group standards and expectations concerning common group activities, (2) their active participation in these activities in informal social contexts with social intimates, (3) the mutual compatibility of these practices, and (4) the functional relevance of these practices for students in their normal role playing. Where students conduct their affairs according to formally established, explicit rules and where informal social contexts do not exist, informal social activities, e.g., partying, drinking, pot smoking, etc., can neither emerge, nor can they get institutionalized.

Operational Hypotheses 11 - 29

What kinds of relationship exist between students' involvement in common group activities, their involvement in illegal conduct, and their attitudes towards the law? What are the underlying social processes and social conditions which can be accounted for in terms of the observed relationships? How do the students' active involvements in common group activities help explain their involvement in illegal acts?

The relationships between involvement in group activities and involvement in illegal acts are predicted in operational hypotheses 11 - 17. Hypotheses 18 - 24 predict the relationships between involvement in group activities and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, and hypotheses 25 - 29 suggest relationships between involvement in group activities and attitudes towards the law.

The data in Tables 15, 16, and path diagrams 2 to 6 provide tests of these hypotheses. We did not formulate any apriori hypotheses suggesting relationships among youth cultural variables and involvement in other drugs, and involvement in all illegal drugs. However, we have included data in Table 15 and path diagrams 7 to 9 which explore the extent to which involvement in youth culture activities influences students' involvement in other drugs and their involvement in all drugs.

Table 15 indicates that the five predictors explain relatively more variances (25.8 and 26.6% respectively) in the involvement in illegal acts and marihuana use than they explain in students' involvement in other illegal drugs, i.e., LSD, amphetamines, barbiturates, and opiates (11.1%). The amount operating of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, and the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use contribute relatively more to the explained variance in all of the dependent variables. Expectedly, involvement in formal group activities systematically predicts low involvement in illegal acts and marihuana use. The perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities • does not explain an appreciable amount of variance in involvement in illegal drugs.

The fact that the youth cultural variables explained relatively more variance in illegal activity and marihuana use than they explained in the use of "hard" drugs reflects perhaps the marginally different, fun oriented, and "emergent" quality of the relatively more frequent, illegal activity among university students. Consistent with our theory, the data in Tables A.2.1 and A.2.2 in Appendix A indicate that the university students engaged relatively more frequently in marginally different, perhaps mutually compatible, role-supportive and/or role-protective "minor" infractions of the law, e.g., items 17, 18, 20, 23, 25, 26, 27, 32, 35, 38, and marihuana use. Also students had generally favourable attitudes towards items 47, 48, 49, 57, 62 (Tables A.2.4 and A.2.5 in Appendix A). Quite often these kinds of illegal activity are extensions, and/or outcomes of the normal, expected and respectable behaviour common among university students. The data in Tables A.2.1 and A.2.2 in Appendix A indicate that not only is the students' involvement in relatively more "serious" offenses, e.g., items 28, 29, 37, 39, and use of "hard" drugs, very low, but also their attitudes towards relatively more "serious" illegal activity such as items 46, 50, 51, 52, and using and selling of "hard" drugs are generally unfavourable (Tables A.2.4 and A.2.5). The "radically different", i.e., relatively more serious illegal activity, neither seems to fit into the routine patterns of the students' activities, nor does it seem to have any functional relevance for their daily role performance. These data also indicate that the university students engage in illegal activity discriminately and selectively. They engage in those kinds of illegal acts which "make sense" to them. This is obvious from a student's statement made during my informal interview: "O.K. .We do dope, we get drunk and we screw girls. But we do not go around assaulting people, it is senseless."

The total (direct + indirect) effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, involvement in formal group activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities, on attitudes towards inn lvement in illegal acts, and involvement in illegal acts are strong, and in the predicted direction. Peer-group orientation, and involvement in informal youth culture activities have strong total effects on attitudes towards marihuana laws, attitudes towards illegal drug use and involvement in illegal drugs. Involvement in formal group activities has generally weak negative effects on attitudes towards illegal activity, involvement in illegal activity, attitudes towards illegal drug use and involvement in illegal drugs. However, the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities has very weak total effects on attitudes towards involvement and involvement in illegal drugs. There is a modest positive relationship between involvement in formal group activities and attitudes favourable towards existing marihuana laws (.070).

Increased involvement in pot smoking and other illegal activity is not a one shot affair. It is a developmental process which involves many potent contingencies that together bring about change in the student's attitudes and behaviour. The observed relationships among the youth cultural variables and their relationships with involvement in illegal activity, attitudes towards marihuana use, marihuana use, and attitudes towards marihuana laws reveal an underlying continuous process. The students' increased identification with peer expectations and their active participation in common, informal youth culture activities, e.g., dating, drinking, partying, etc., with identically statused, social intimates, exert a strong influence on their perception, attitudes and behaviour, leading gradually to an increased involvement in marginally different, illegal conduct.

Peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, and the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use have strong positive direct effects on involvement in illegal acts, and involvement in the illegal use of drugs. As predicted the direct effects of involvement in formal group activities are systematically negative and generally weak. Contrary to our predictions the effects of the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities on attitudes towards marihuana laws, attitudes towards involvement in marihuana use, involvement in other drugs and in all illegal drugs are not statistically significant at the .01 level. As hypothesized, peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, and the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use have strong negative direct, and total, effects on attitudes towards marihuana laws (P = -.29, -.12, -.11 respectively). The positive direct effect of involvement in formal group activities is rather weak (P = .06).

The indirect effects of peer-group orientation on involvement in illegal acts and involvement in illegal drugs are considerable, and they operate mainly through involvement in informal youth culture activities, and the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use. This is because engaging in illegal activities emerges from active participation in socially approved youth culture events, where one tends to participate socially with peers.

It is notable that while the direct effects of the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities are not generally statistically significant, the indirect effects of this variable on all dependent variables are considerable, and they operate through the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use. These relationships are understandable in the following terms: perhaps those who perceive sanctions for failure to participate in partying, drinking, dating are likely to engage more in these activities rather than pot smoking and using other illegal drugs. If, however, pot and other drugs are legitimized and used in the groups in which they go drinking and partying, they are likely to perceive that failing to smoke pot brings unpopularity and they might use pot and try other "hard" drugs. Specifically, there is an underlying process and this is partly seen in the indirect effects of the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities, through the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, on involvement in marihuana use, attitudes towards involvement in illegal drugs, involvement in other drugs, and involvement in all drugs.

Table 16 indicates the direct effects of involvement in individual, informal youth culture activities, and formal group activities on involvement in illegal conduct.* It is clear that involvement in each informal, youth culture activity has positive effects, while involvement in each formal group activity has negative effects on attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, involvement in illegal acts, attitudes towards involvement in marihuana use, and the involvement in marihuana use. As we anticipated from our theory, the typical informal youth culture activities (dating, drinking, partying) have relatively stronger, direct effects than do other informal youth culture activities.

* Path diagrams similar to path diagram 2 were drawn for each individual informal youth culture and formal group activity. The indirect effects of each activity on attitudes towards involvement and involvement in illegal acts, and marihuana use were calculated. Results obtained were remarkably similar to the results obtained from the use of summated measures of youth culture involvement. For the sake of parsimony only the direct effects (Betas) are presented for each activity in Table 16.

Tables A.2.7 and A.2.8 in Appendix A show the influence of involvement in informal youth culture and formal group activities on involvement in individual illegal acts, and attitudes towards involvement in individual illegal acts. Consistent with our theory are the direct effects of all the youth cultural variables on involvement in individual illegal acts, and attitudes towards involvement in individual illegal acts, and these are consistent with their observed effects on the summated measures of involvement and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts. Moreover, they are all in the predicted direction: involvement in informal youth culture activities has systematically positive effects, while involvement in formal group activities has systematically negative effects on involvement in illegal acts and attitudes towards involvement in each illegal act.

We noticed an unanticipated "statistical interaction" between involvement in formal group and informal youth culture activities and illegal conduct. It was observed that simultaneously high participation in formal group and informal youth culture activities decreased the probability of high drug use and illegal activity (Tables 13,13a and 13b). It seems likely that the presence of alternative sources of social and/or peer support (i.e., formal group activity) that do not involve any social pressure to engage in drug use and illegal behaviour increases one's ability to resist social pressure to them. This seems evident as informal youth culture participation increases from low to medium to high. Simultaneously, high involvement in both formal group and informal youth culture activities limits the amount of time available to students for non-academic activities. Students who are highly involved in both formal group and informal youth culture activities have less time available for smoking pot and engaging in other similar time-consuming illegal activities. Preliminary data gathered through our informal interviews with students partly reflected this time contingency. One of the students who was highly involved in both formal and informal group activities remarked as follows: "I have better things to do with my limited time than go to smoke pot or do acid."

Operational Hypothesis 30

We have seen that both involvement in illegal acts, and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts are differentially affected by participation in youth culture activities (Table 15 and path diagrams 2, 3). In operational hypothesis 30 we predicted the relationship between attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts and involvement in illegal acts while holding constant the youth cultural variables. The data in Table 17 and path diagram 10 indicate that the six predictors explained 39.2% of the variance in involvement in illegal activity. There is a strong positive relationship between attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts and involvement in illegal acts (P = .41). The total effects of other antecedent variables on involvement in illegal acts are fairly strong. It is notable that while the direct effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in formal group activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities are weak (P = .08, -.03, .07 respectively), their effects through attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts are increased (.178, -.057, .067 respectively). Involvement in informal youth culture activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use have relatively stronger direct effects (P = .19, .13 respectively) even though their effects through attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts are notable. Clearly, the predictor attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts explain more variance in illegal participation than any of the other independent variables.

In terms of the observed relationships between youth cultural variables and illegal activity, the following underlying sequence of events and activities is likely; the students' commitment to informal youth culture activities and marginally different practices, e.g., smoking pot, fosters favourable attitudes towards illegal activity. These favourable attitudes towards illegal activity lead to an increased involvement in those kinds of illegal acts which either support or protect the student's roles and identities in the youth culture.

The effects of all independent variables on involvement in individual illegal acts are presented in Table A.2.9 in Appendix A. It is clear that all the gross and direct effects of attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts on involvement in individual illegal acts are fairly strong and positive. The effects of other variables are generally consistent with our findings where involvement in illegal acts is used as a summated dependent variable.

We were not sure about the causal ordering of these two variables. Which of these variables anteceded the other, and led to variation in the other? Was it their "reciprocal causation" which violated an assumption of the model? In Table A.2.10 in Appendix A, we treated attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts as the dependent variable, and involvement in illegal acts as an independent variable. Data in Table A.2.10 in Appendix A yield results almost identical with those obtained from Table A.2.9 in Appendix A. Perhaps verbally expressed attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts operate as close surrogates of self-reported involvement in illegal acts, and ought not to be treated as entirely distinct variables in this kind of analysis. While the two variables were kept distinct in our analysis the reader should exercise caution in interpreting the relationships between the variables in causal terms.


Operational Hypothesis 31

The effects of involvement in illegal acts on attitudes towards the marihuana caws are predicted in operational hypothesis 31. The data in Table 17 and path diagram 10 reveal that the total effects of the independent variables on attitudes towards the marihuana laws are in the predicted direction. Peer-group orientation, involvement in informal, youth culture activities, and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts exercise substantial direct effects (P = -.24, -.09, -.14 respectively). However, expectedly, involvement in formal group activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities, and the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use have weak direct effects (P = .05, .03, -.07 respectively). Controlling for other independent variables the direct effect of involvement in illegal acts on attitudes towards marihuana laws is very weak although statistically significant at the .01 level (P = -.03). It is very likely that students' attitudes towards marihuana laws are a function of their actual involvement in marihuana use and marihuana-using groups rather than their involvement in other illegal acts. Consistent with our other findings involvement in formal group activities has a positive relationship with attitudes towards marihuana laws: the greater the participation in formal group activities the more favourable (i.e., the less receptive to change) the attitudes towards the present marihuana laws.

Operational Hypothesis 32

Using eight predictors, 43.1% of the variance in attitudes towards marihuana use is explained (Table 17 and path diagram 10). In terms of the explained variance, attitudes towards marihuana laws, attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, and peer-group orientation are the best predictors of attitudes towards marihuana use. As hypothesized, involvement in illegal acts is positively related to attitudes towards involvement in marihuana use (P = .03), although the size of the relationship is not as large as expected. The total effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts are relatively strong and positive (.272, .148, .124, .310 respectively). The direct effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, and attitudes towards marihuana laws are considerable (P = .08, .09, .24, -.42 respectively). Peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts have considerable indirect effects operating mainly through attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, and attitudes towards marihuana laws (.192, .058, .084, .070 respectively). The perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities does not have any effect on attitudes towards involvement in marihuana use. Expectedly, involvement in formal group activities negatively affects attitudes towards involvement in marihuana use; both the direct effect (P = -.03), and total effect (-.076) are weak.

Operational Hypothesis 33

The data in Table 18 and path diagram 12 indicate that peer-group orientation, and attitudes towards illegal activity have variously strong positive direct effects on attitudes towards illegal drug use (P = .13, .36 respectively). Involvement in informal youth culture activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use have weak positive direct effects (P = .04, .06 respectively). Involvement in formal, group activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities have weak negative direct effects (P = -.02, -.08 respectively). Peer-group orientation, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use have considerable indirect effects operating mainly through attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts (.113, .086 respectively). The indirect effects of other variables are weak.

These relationships form a causal chain: the more peer-oriented one becomes, the more likely one is to engage in informal youth culture activities. In keeping with the theory, the more involved one is in informal youth culture activities, the higher the probability of participation in marginally different illegal activity in the quest for status. Under such circumstances, one is more apt to acquire attitudes favourable to law violation, which in turn affect one's receptivity to change in marihuana laws. Moreover, the more one favours change in the existing marihuana laws, the more likely one is to acquire favourable attitudes towards marihuana use, and perhaps towards other illegal drug use.

Operational Hypothesis 34

Data in Table 18 and path diagrams 11, 12, 13, 14 indicate the extent to which independent variables affect attitudes towards illegal drug use and involvement in illegal drugs. It is clear that the total (direct + indirect) effects of peer-group orientation, informal youth culture participation, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, on attitudes towards illegal drug use and involvement in illegal drugs are considerable. The total effects of involvement in formal group activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities, are generally negative and weak. Holding constant the effects of six antecedent independent variables there is a strong, positive, direct effect of involvement in illegal acts on involvement in marihuana use, and involvement in other drugs, and in all illegal drugs (P = .30, .37, .39 respectively). The direct effect of involvement in illegal acts on attitudes towards involvement in illegal drugs is relatively weak (P = .06). In line with our theory the effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, on involvement in marihuana use are positive and fairly strong (P = .21, .14, .16 respectively). Attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, involvement in formal group activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities have relatively weak direct effects on involvement in marihuana use (P = .05, -.04, -.06 respectively). The indirect effects of all independent variables except involvement in formal group activities on involvement in marihuana use operate mainly through the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, and involvement in illegal acts (.091, .051, .068, .050, .123 respectively).

Operational Hypothesis 35 (Table 18, path diagram 13)

Peer-group orientation, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use have variously weak direct effects on involvement in other illegal drugs (P = .09, -.06, .10 respectively). Involvement in informal youth culture activities, involvement in formal group activities, and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts do not directly affect involvement in other illegal drugs. Attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts have a marked indirect effect, while peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use are indirectly variously influential, operating mainly through involvement in illegal acts (.151, .045, .069, .049, .050 respectively).

Operational Hypothesis 36 (Table 18, path diagram 14)

Peer-group orientation, and the perception of sanctions for failure to use marihuana have direct positive effects on involvement in all illegal drugs (P = .16, .14 respectively). While involvement in informal youth culture activities, and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts have positive albeit weak direct effects, the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities has a weak negative effect on involvement in all illegal drugs (P = .07, .03, -.07 respectively). Attitudes towards illegal activity have a strong indirect effect, whereas peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities, and the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use have variously weak indirect effects on involvement in all illegal drugs (.159, .073, .069, .062, .056 respectively). These indirect effects operate mainly through the involvement in illegal acts.

From these relationships, an underlying social process leading to illegal drug use becomes apparent. The students' heavy involvement in informal youth culture activities with friends leads to favourable attitudes towards involvement in illegal activity and their active involvement in illegal activity, each of which, in turn, causes change in the students' attitudes towards illegal drugs, eventually leading them perhaps to experiment first with "soft" and then with "hard" drugs.

Operational Hypothesis 37

Hypothesis 37 is tested with data in Table 17 and path diagram 10. The total (direct + indirect) effect of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, on attitudes towards marihuana use are fairly strong (.272, .148, .124, .310 respectively).    Controlling other independent variables, attitudes towards marihuana laws, and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts exert strong effect on attitudes towards marihuana use (P = -.42, .24 respectively). The direct effects of other independent variables are generally weak, and the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities exerts no effect on attitudes towards marihuana use. While the indirect effect of peer-group orientation on attitudes towards marihuana use is marked (.192), the indirect effects of other variables are generally weak, and they operate mainly, through attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, and attitudes towards marihuana laws.

Operational Hypothesis 38

Data in Table 17 and path diagram 10 provide a test for hypothesis 38. Holding constant the effects of other independent variables, the direct effect of attitudes towards marihuana laws on involvement in marihuana use is strong (P = -.28). The less favourable (i.e., the more receptive to change) the attitudes towards present marihuana laws the greater the involvement in marihuana use.
These relationships represent an added process: students' peer-group orientation and their increased participation in informal youth culture activities, influence strongly their attitudes and involvement in illegal activity, which promote relatively less favourable attitudes towards the existing marihuana laws. The unfavourable attitudes towards marihuana laws foster further the favourable attitudes towards marihuana use which lead to an increased use of pot.

Operational Hypothesis 39

Using nine antecedent independent variables, 48.2% of the variance in marihuana use is explained. In terms of the explained variance all but involvement in formal group activities and the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities are the main contributors. The data in Table 17 and path diagram 10 reveal that the total (direct + indirect) effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, involvement in illegal acts, attitudes towards marihuana laws, and attitudes towards involvement in marihuana use, on involvement in marihuana use are fairly strong and in the expected direction (.229, .163, .174, .158, .293, -.359, .19 respectively). The negative result (-.359) means that students who approve of present laws are less likely to smoke pot than students who disapprove of the laws. Peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, involvement in illegal acts, attitudes towards marihuana laws, and attitudes towards involvement in marihuana use have variously, direct effects on involvement in marihuana use when other independent variables are controlled (P = .10, .09, .12, .28, -.28, .19 respectively). The direct effects of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities, and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts are relatively weak and negative (P = -.05, -.04 respectively). The direct negative effect of involvement in formal group activities is not statistically significant at the .01 level. While the direct effects of peer-group orientation, and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts are marked (.129, .198 respectively), the indirect effects of other independent variables are generally weak and they operate mainly through involvement in illegal acts, attitudes towards marihuana laws, and attitudes towards involvement in marihuana use.

Operational Hypothesis 40

Data in Table 19 and path diagram 11 indicate the effects of independent variables on involvement in other illegal drugs. Consistent With our prediction, attitudes towards illegal drug use have a direct positive effect on other, i.e., non-marihuana drug use, when the effects of other independent variables are controlled (P = .11). The total (direct + indirect) effects of perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, involvement in illegal acts, and involvement in marihuana use are variously strong and positive (.121, .117, .354, .398 respectively). It is notable that the independent variables from peer-group orientation to attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts (see path diagram 11) have very weak negative or statistically insignificant direct effects. The direct effects of illegal activity and involvement in marihuana use are marked (P = .25, .36 respectively). The modest indirect effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use operate mainly through involvement in illegal acts and involvement in marihuana use, as do the indirect effects of attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, and involvement in illegal acts (.088, .097, .081, .157, .104 respectively). The indirect effect of involvement in marihuana use via attitudes towards illegal drug use is weak (.038). Very similar results are obtained from separate analyses performed on marihuana-using subsamples.

Operational Hypothesis 41

Data in Table 20 and path diagram 12 indicate the extent to which attitudes towards involvement in all illegal drugs affect involvement in all illegal drugs. Holding constant the effects of other independent variables we notice a strong positive direct effect of attitudes towards involvement in illegal drugs on involvement in all illegal drugs (P = .30). The total (direct + indirect) effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, and involvement in illegal acts are variously strong and positive (.201, .137, .181, .189, .388 respectively). The direct effects of peer-group orientation, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, and involvement in illegal acts are again variously strong and positive (P = .12, .13, .37 respectively). Involvement in informal youth culture activities has a weak positive effect (P = .06), while perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities, and involvement in illegal acts have weak negative direct effects (P = -.04, -.07 respectively). Peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use have weak indirect effects, while attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts has strong indirect effects operating mainly through involvement in illegal acts, and attitudes towards involvement in illegal drugs (.081, .077, .031, .051, .259 respectively).

Operational Hypothesis 42

It is clear from the data in Table 19 and path diagram 11 that attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, and involvement in marihuana use have strong positive direct effects on attitudes towards involvement in illegal drugs when the effects of other independent variables are taken into account (P = .34, .35 respectively). The total (direct + indirect) effects of peer-group orientation, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, and attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts are fairly large (.215, .125, .341 respectively). Involvement in informal youth culture activities, and involvement in illegal acts have weak positive effects, while involvement in formal group activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities have weak negative total effects (.060, .065, -.048, -.046 respectively). The positive direct effect of peer-group orientation is weak as are the negative direct effects of perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities, and involvement in illegal acts (P = .06, -.05, -.04 respectively). The direct effects of involvement in informal youth culture activities, involvement in formal group activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use are not statistically significant at the .01 level. Involvement in informal youth culture activities has a weak effect (.060), while peer-group orientation, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, and involvement in illegal acts have strong positive indirect effects operating mainly through attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, and involvement in marihuana use (.155, .125, .105 respectively). As expected involvement in formal group activities has a weak negative effect on attitudes towards involvement in illegal drugs (-.038).

Operational Hypothesis 43 (Table 19, path diagram 11)

Controlling for other independent variables involvement in marihuana use has a strong direct positive effect on involvement in other illegal drugs (P = .36). The total (direct + indirect) effects of perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts, involvement in illegal acts, and involvement in marihuana use are variously strong and positive (.121, .117, .354, .398 respectively). The independent variables from peer-group orientation to attitudes towards involvement in illegal acts have very weak negative or statistically insignificant direct effects. The direct effects of illegal activity is marked (P = .25). The modest indirect effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use operate mainly through involvement in illegal acts (.088, .097, .081, .157 respectively).

From the data used to test hypotheses 39 to 43 the following social process becomes apparent: heavy involvement in informal youth culture activities with identically statused, social intimates, leads to marginally different, recreational activity, e. g., marihuana use. Also it provides opportunities for contacts with those groups and subcultures where drug use is legitimized and where drugs are widely available. Regular use of pot may predispose a person to try other drugs. Moreover, the presence of other drug users and the fact that one has already learned to use and appreciate the effects of pot may facilitate the use of other "hard" drugs.

Operational Hypothesis 44

Marihuana is usually used to produce certain "positive" social and psychological effects, e.g., sociability, euphoria, conviviality, relaxation, etc., and the users often expect these effects to take place. It is expected that the more one uses marihuana the more likely one is to perceive these "positive" effects. Data in Table 21 and path diagram 15 indicate that involvement in marihuana use is the most influential factor affecting the perception of social and psychological effects of marihuana. There is a strong, positive, direct effect of marihuana use on perceived "positive" social and psychological effects of marihuana use (P = .32). The total effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use are modest, but in the expected direction (.081, .094, .032, .093 respectively). While the direct effects of involvement in informal youth culture activities, and the perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities are weak (P = .06, .05 respectively), the direct effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in formal group activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use are not statistically significant at the .01 level. The generally weak indirect effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use operate mainly through involvement in marihuana use (.061, .034, .073 respectively).

Operational Hypothesis 45

Data in Table 21 and path diagram 17 show a strong positive direct effect of marihuana use on perceived (experienced) appreciation of art, appreciation of music, sexual enjoyment, "self-awareness", and religious communion (P = .37). Peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use exert fairly strong total effects (.137, .126, .185 respectively), while involvement in formal group activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities have weak total effects (-.046, .039 respectively). The direct effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities are positive, but weak (P = .05, .07, .04 respectively). The direct negative effect of involvement in `ormal group activities is not statistically significant at the .01 level. The modest indirect effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use operate mainly-through perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, and involvement in marihuana use (.087, .056, .085 respectively).

Operational Hypothesis 46

The more one uses marihuana the more likely is one to take seriously the subcultural influences, norms and beliefs that often surround the marihuana scene. One soon comes to believe that the use of pot does actually increase one's artistic sensibilities.
Path diagram 16 shows that marihuana use has a strong positive, direct effect on beliefs concerning the effects of using marihuana (P = .38). The more one's involvement in marihuana use the more likely is one to believe that marihuana use increases appreciation of art, appreciation of music, sexual enjoyment, "self-awareness", and religious communion.

Operational Hypothesis 47

One's own experience with pot is usually influential in confirming one's beliefs about how pot smoking affects the user's artistic sensibilities. This is evident from the relationship between the effects of marihuana use experienced by the user and his beliefs concerning the effects of pot smoking. Table 21 and path diagram 17 show that perceived experiences with marihuana use have a very strong, positive, direct effect on beliefs about marihuana use (P = .70). The more one has experienced the effects of marihuana use the more likely is one to believe that using marihuana increases the user's appreciation of art, appreciation of music, sexual enjoyment, "self-awareness", and religious communion. Peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities, and perception of sanetions for failure to participate in marihuana use have weak positiye total (direct + indirect) effects (.051, .057, .036, .085 respectively). Marihuana use has a strong positive total effect (.369), and a strong direct effect (P = .11), while the direct effects of all other independent variables are not statistically significant at the .01 level. The weak positive indirect effects of peer-group orientation, involvement in informal youth culture activities, and perception of sanctions for failure to participate in informal youth culture activities operate mainly through experienced effects of marihuana use; so do the strong indirect effects of perception of sanctions for failure to participate in marihuana use, and involvement in marihuana use (.051, .057, .036, .095, .259 respectively).

Operational Hypothesis 48

In the literature conflicting reports are found on the relationship between marihuana use and academic performance. While several studies report a positive relationship,4 many report a negative relationship 5 or no relationship6 between these two variables. Operational hypothesis 48 predicted the effect of involvement in marihuana use on the students' self-reported formal academic performance. Contrary to the hypothesized negative relationship, the two variables showed a substantial positive relationship (P = .10). Analysis on the marihuana-using subsample revealed a similar relationship (P = .09). The more the involvement in marihuana use the higher the students' self-reported, formal academic performance.

Research has shown that marihuana acts as a mild stimulant if used in modest doses, and relatively less frequently.' Our data indicate that 67% of the marihuana smokers in the sample used pot occasionally, i.e., 2 to 3 times a month or less (see Tables A.2.2 and A.2.3 in Appendix A). It is likely that instead of interfering with the student's academic work, occasional use of marihuana in small amounts may conceivably facilitate his concentration on academic material. If improved academic performance is a function of the student being able to concentrate better on his academic assignments, then our interpretation of the observed positive relationship between marihuana use and formal academic performance is at least tenable in light of the above facts. Moreover, it seems to reflect the functional aspects of recreational pot smoking relevant to the student role. In our informal interviews, marihuana users repeatedly remarked that using pot in small amounts occasionally did not interfere with their formal academic work.

Operational Hypothesis 49

Operational hypothesis 49 is tested with data in Table 22. Holding constant the youth cultural variables (XI to X5), we notice a strong negative relationship between involvement in formal religious activities (frequency of church attendance) and involvement in marihuana use (P = -.13). The lower the participation in formal religious activities the more the involvement in marihuana use. This is also true about other illegal activity and about the use of other illegal drugs (Tables 23 and 24). This observation is consistent with the other findings of this study where involvement in formal group activities is negatively related to involvement in marihuana use. (Table 16). The findings of previous research also lend support to this conclusionP

It is often suggested that the more religious one is, the more likely one is to accept the established order of things, and less likely to become involved in illegal conduct. While this may be partly true, it is reasonable to suggest that religion, by itself, does not prevent people from becoming involved in illegal conduct. Rather, it is one's involvement in formal groups and institutions that acts as an effective deterrent against one's involvement in illegal behaviour. Our data suggest that one's involvement in formal groups characterized by "explicit organizational rules", impersonality, and social distance is negatively related to characteristically informal social activities, e.g., marihuana use. (See also Tables A.2.12, A.2.15 and A.2.16 for the relationships between the students' religious affiliation and their involvement in marihuana use, other illegal activity and the use of other illegal drugs).

Operational Hypothesis 50

As predicted, females are relatively less involved in marihuana use than are males. (Table 22). But the relationship between sexual status and marihuana use is rather weak (P = -.07).* The slightly stronger relationship (P = -.10) for the middle socio-economic status indicates that the middle socio-economic status females are relatively less involved in marihuana use than are males. (See Tables 23 and 24 for other illegal activity and the use of other illegal drugs).

* Sexual status was used as a dummy variable in the multiple regressions. It was coded as follows: male = 1; female = 2.
** Usual living arrangements was used as a dummy variable. It was coded as follows: rural = 1, urban = 2; off-campus = 1, on-campus = 2.

 

Operational Hypothesis 51

The relationship between customary living arrangements (rural or urban) and involvement in marihuana use is not statistically significant at the .01 level (P = .01)**although it is in the predicted direction. It seems that rural or urban residence does not itself influence marihuana use. Rather, it serves as a context in which other variables operate more effectively. Students who live in urban areas are slightly more involved in marihuana use than are those who live in rural areas. This is expected because in urban areas a relatively wider variety of groups and social contexts are available to participate in a relatively greater variety of activity. Moreover, opportunities to buy and smoke pot with friends are more readily available in urban areas.

The data in Table 22 also indicate that the predicted relationship between living on-campus or off-campus and marihuana use does not hold. Living on-campus is negatively related to high involvement in marihuana use (P = -.06). This is more true of females and low socio-economic status subsamples (P = -.10 and -.09 respectively).

Perhaps on-campus students are more likely tied to a number of formal groups than are students who live in town. It is well known that one reason why students prefer to live off-campus is that there are fewer institutional controls, i.e., they "feel freer". Probably the observed difference between the on-campus and off-campus residents with respect to pot 'smoking is understandable in the light of this speculation. (See Tables 23 and 24 for other illegal activity and the use of other illegal drugs).

Operational Hypothesis 52

Table 22 indicates that there is a weak positive relationship between self-confidence and involvement in marihuana use (P = .08). Perhaps, at the personality level, self-confidence is a precondition for expanding one's social relationships. It operates as an intervening variable between attitudes and actual involvement in social behaviour. The more self-confidence one experiences in managing social encounters, the more likely one is to initiate and maintain informal, social relationships. The more one is involved in informal, social relationships with identically statused social intimates, the more likely is one to be involved in marihuana use and other similar, marginally different, social activities. (See Tables 23 and 24 for other illegal activity and the use of other illegal drugs).

It is possible to suggest a different causal order between self-confidence and marihuana use: involvement in marihuana use leads to increased self-confidence. The more one uses marihuana in informal social groups, the more opportunities and contacts one is likely to have which further increase one's self-confidence.

Both interpretations of the observed relationship between marihuana use and self-confidence sound reasonable depending on whether we are discussing confirmed pot users (as in the La Guardia Report) or trying to explain the emergence and institutionalization of marihuana use. In view of our perspective, the first interpretation is probably more likely, since we treat marihuana use as a gradually developing social practice emerging from a network of social relationships among university students.

SUMMARY

In this chapter, some 15 general propositions and 52 operational hypotheses derived mostly from our theoretical perspective were tested. The bulk of the survey data were organized by using the results of multivariate regressions; path analysis was used as the major technique in presenting and analyzing the relationships. An attempt was made to identify and illustrate some of the underlying social processes in order to account for the observed relationships among a number of variables. Also, an effort was made to examine some of the problematic aspects of the presumed causal ordering of variables.

Consistent with our theory, the data lent substantial support for all, but a few operational hypotheses. Although the size of the observed partial relationships were not always very large, some systematic patterns were observed in the data. For example, among youth cultural variables, involvement in informal, youth culture activities is systematically, positively related to attitudes towards involvement in illegal activity, involvement in illegal activity, attitudes towards involvement in illegal drug use, and illegal drug use, while involvement in formal, group activities is systematically, negatively related to these variables. Where involvement in informal youth culture activities does not exert a direct influence on the dependent variables, it seems to exercise a considerable, systematic, indirect effect on the succeeding variables. Attitudes towards illegal activity seem to affect strongly, and systematically, involvement in illegal activity and in illegal drug use.

The data shed considerable light on the importance of the experiential dimension of pot smoking; marihuana use plays a dominant role in confirming the user's beliefs about how it affects the user's appreciation of art, appreciation of music, sexual enjoyment, "self-awareness", etc., and in the user's perception of the "positive" social and psychological effects of pot smoking.

REFERENCES
1. H. M. Blalock and Ann Blalock, eds., Methodology in Social Research, op. cit., 189 - 191.
2 Otis Dudley Duncan, "Path Analysis: Sociological Examples", op. cit., 5 - 6.
3. C. V. Brittain, "Adolescent Choices and Parent-Peer Cross-Pressures", American Sociological Review, 28, 1963, 385 - 391.
4. J. S. Hochman, Marijuana and Social Evolution, op. cit., 94; R. Hogan, et al., "Personality Correlates of Undergraduate Marijuana Use", Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 35, 1970, 58-63; E. Goode, "Drug Use and Grades in College", op. cit.
5. H. M. Annis, et al., Drug Use Among High School Students in Timmins, Unpublished Manuscript, Project J - 183, Sub-study 1 - 38 & 39 & B1 - 71, Addiction Research Foundation, Toronto, 1971; C. H. Haagen, Social and Psychological Characteristics Associated with the Use o f Marijuana by College Men, Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University, January, 1970; I. Hindmarch, "Patterns of Drug Use in a Provincial University", British Journal of the Addictions, 64, 1970, 395 - 402; Bruce D. Johnson, Marihuana Users and Drug Subcultures, op. cit..
6. R. Blum, et al., Students and Drugs, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1969;J. S. Hochman and N. Q. Brill, Marijuana Use and Psychological Adaptation, Unpublished Manuscript, Center for the Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, 1971.
7. Mayor's Committee on Marihuana (New York City), The Marijuana Problem in the City of New York, op. cit.; Le Dain Commission, Cannabis, op. cit.
8. K. Westhues and Douglas Anderson, op. cit., 138; A Study of Marihuana Users and Usage (Project F-169), op. cit.

 

Our valuable member Mohammad Nawaz has been with us since Thursday, 31 January 2013.

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