Korean Working Adults' and Undergraduates' Attitudes towards, and Self-Efficacy in, Joining Drinking Parties

Article excerpt

This study compared Korean working adults' participation in drinking parties with work colleagues, with Korean undergraduates' participation in drinking parties with fellow students, to examine if being employed versus being an undergraduate had effects on alcohol consumption. Findings showed that working adults had lower levels of self-efficacy in their drinking-party participation than did undergraduates, and that working adults were less positive about their decision not to join drinking parties than were undergraduates. These findings may imply a generation difference between working adults and undergraduates and also social influence reflected in the Korean workplace culture.

Keywords: alcohol consumption, undergraduates, binge drinking, drinking parties, Korea, working adults, social influence

In Korea, where people drink with others more often than alone and believe that alcohol-involved social gatherings (i.e., drinking parties - SuI-Ja-Ri in Korean) produce positive outcomes such as group cohesion and improvement in interpersonal relationships (Park, Kim, Lee, & Lee, 2004), it is necessary to investigate alcohol consumption issues by examining people's attitudes towards drinking parties. Although examining individuals' socioeconomic and/ or demographic data to discern factors associated with alcohol consumption is crucial in identifying at-risk groups of individuals and in designing programs targeting those risk groups, drinking parties also deserve attention from researchers and program developers. When drinking parties with work colleagues are an important part of working adults' work lives, and when drinking parties with fellow students in the same college are not negligible in undergraduates' social lives, people may feel pressured to join drinking parties and consume more alcohol than otherwise. In Korea, which is less individualistic than the United States (Hofstede, 1984; Oyserman, Coon, & Kemmelmeier, 2002), normative pressure from the groups to which individuals belong can have a more significant impact on individuals' alcohol consumption. When people believe that drinking parties facilitate information exchange (Park et al., 2004), people may view drinking parties in a positive light.

Problems arising from alcohol consumption can be relevant to people of all ages. Although individuals obtain some health benefits from consuming moderate amounts of alcohol (Klatsky, 1999), individuals' health can also worsen by overconsumption of alcohol. In Korea, 7.9% of all deaths result from alcohol-related disease (Ministry of Health and Welfare, 2002). According to a 2002 report by the Korea National Statistical Office (2003), liver-related diseases are the fourth most frequent cause of death for men generally and the second-ranked cause of death among men aged 40 to 49. Although cancer is the leading cause of death in Korea (Korea National Statistical Office, 2003), with a significant portion of liver-related diseases and liver cancer being induced by alcohol consumption (Corrao, Bagnardi, Zambon, & Arico, 1999; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1998), alcohol is a significant matter to consider in relation to Korean working adults' health.

To complicate the problem, Korean adults view alcohol consumption favorably (Choi, Kim, & Kim, 2001), while underestimating significantly the harmful effects of alcohol (Kim, Choi, Lee, & Kwak, 1999). For Koreans, alcohol is a social lubricant. For example, many Koreans believe that alcohol helps people to get to know each other better, alcohol is essential for creating a pleasant atmosphere at a gathering, and nondrinkers have a serious disadvantage in their social and work lives (Choi et al., 2001). In addition to stress reduction as a popular outcome expected from alcohol consumption, people often consider social and work life matters as important factors for alcohol consumption (Yoo, 1999). Many Koreans drink with friends, colleagues, or business associates and consider alcohol consumption as a way of developing and maintaining social relationships, more than as a way of coping with personal or psychological problems (Kirn. …


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