College Students' Attitudes toward Ufo's

Article excerpt

The present study investigated college student's attitudes toward UFO's. The sample consisted of 269 college students at a "deep south" university randomly selected after being stratified for gender and race. The instrument consisted of a Likert-type, three-point scale with `agree', `neutral', and `disagree' options containing 18 statements dealing with UFO issues. While the expectation was that the student population would have different attitudes toward UFO's because of the conservative nature of the region, the results actually showed that the college student's attitudes towards UFO's were largely the same as those of the general population.

Attitudes are often studied to determine what behaviors will follow and it is generally understood that correlations between attitudes and behaviors are not good. However, in considering the relationship between attitude and behavior, Andrich and Styles (1998) found in their studies that "behavior statements were at systematically different locations from attitude statements on the same continuum". They concluded that "their relationship was easily understood as consistent even though they implied a low correlation between attitude and behavior." Biasco (1989, 1991, 1992) believes that college students attitudes largely parrot those of the general public. Because of the interest in UFO's, Biasco sought to confirm or deny this viewpoint.

According to a study done by the Third Millennium (1994), a non-partisan organization, nearly twice as many young adults believe that UFO's exist as believe social security will exist by the time they retire (46%--28%).

Troy Zimmer's (1984) study of 475 college students who sighted UFO's indicated that undergraduates who sighted UFO's were pretty much the same as non-sighters and showed no significant difference on several social psychological correlates like cultural alienation, malevolent World view and personal well-being, with the exception that sighters were slightly more likely to believe in the occult.

Shostak and Kutzik (1996) found that the attitudes of the current generation of college students (aged 18-29 called `baby busters') toward life in general are rooted in realism and practicality, especially those from middle-class backgrounds. For example, during a campus worker strike, the researchers found that most of the students felt loyalty toward neither group and were singularly concerned with returning normalcy to their campus and completing their degree programs. Unlike their predecessors a generation ago, they were less interested in political or ideological issues and were instead focused on getting with their education and entering a job market.

Method

Participants

The sample in the study consisted of 269 college students, which was roughly 4% of the total student body at the University of West Florida. The study was stratified along two variables, gender and race, to insure a proportionate representation from the student population from each of these categories, thereby improving the quality of the sample and the generalizability of the results.

Of the subjects who participated in the survey, 112 were males and 157 were females with 82.5% of the sample being white, 6.7% being black, and 10.8% in the `other' category representing the races of American Indian, Asian, and Hispanic. Eighty of the respondents in the study were aged 19-21, with 33.5% aged 22-25, 28.6% aged 26-40; 7.1% were 41 or, and only 1.1% were aged 18 or below.

Sixty-five percent of the respondents in the study were single while 28% were married and 5% were divorced with 2% separated. The religious preferences of the respondents were varied, with 1% being Jewish, 19% Protestant, 20% Catholic, 20% Baptist, and 40% being of `other' religions and indicating no religious preference. Despite the impression that the "Bible Belt" is predominantly conservative, the study showed that the largest percentage of the college students surveyed, 38%, saw themselves as `moderate' while 21% said they were `conservative' and only 33% held themselves out as `liberal'. …