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The Influence of Fraternity and Sorority Involvement: A Critical Analysis of Research (1996 - 2013): AEHE Volume 39, Number 6

The Influence of Fraternity and Sorority Involvement: A Critical Analysis of Research (1996 - 2013): AEHE Volume 39, Number 6


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Despite negative connotations and empirical evidence to support detrimental aspects of fraternity and sorority membership, decades of nationally representative data show students remain interested in joining. This monograph reconsiders the value of membership, based on scholarly research published since 1996 in the following ways:

  • Through identifying behavioral, psychological and educational outcomes of fraternity/sorority involvement
  • By differentiating outcomes between and among organizations
  • Through recommending implications for policy and practice based on research.

Findings revealed an unexpected amount of scholarly research interest on fraternity and sorority involvement, and membership correlates in the last two decades from a variety of disciplines.

Despite a disproportionate focus on behavioral correlates, such as alcohol use, hazing and sexual assault, researchers in the past decade have slowly added psychosocial and educational considerations, building toward a more holistic understanding of outcomes related to involvement.

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Executive Summary ix

Foreword xv

Introduction 1

Terminology 3

Problem Statement 4

Purpose of the Monograph 5

Research Questions 5

Importance of the Topic 6

Research Approach 8

Theoretical Consideration 9

Organization of This Monograph 11

Alcohol-Related Behavioral Effects 13

Context 14

Research Design and Terminology 15

Criticisms of the Terminology 17

Rates and Statistics 17

Binge Drinking 18

Heavy Episodic Drinking (HED) 20

Problem Drinking, Alcoholism, and Alcohol Dependence 21

Weekly and Monthly Consumption 22

Special Occasion/High-Risk Drinking 23

Predisposition to Join, Previous Alcohol Experience, and Other Controls 25

The New Member Education Period 27

Socialization and Organizational Effects 28

Consumption at Fraternity Parties 30

Fraternity and Sorority Houses 32

Other Comparisons Within Groups 35

Comparisons to Athletes 37

Comparisons to Other Campus-Based Organizations 39

Consumption Patterns During and After College 42

Summary of Findings 42

Other Behavioral Effects 47

Hazing 47

Hazing Research in Journal Articles 49

Hazing Research in Other Publications 52

Sex-Related Research: Instruments, Terminology, and Criticism 54

Rape Myths, Beliefs, and Bystander Intervention 56

Sexual Aggression and Coercion 58

Sorority as At-Risk Group for Sexual Assault 59

Comparing Fraternity Members to Athletes 62

Other Drug Use 63

Smoking, Other Tobacco, and Salvia divinorum 64

Ecstasy, Marijuana, and Opioid Analgesics 66

Illegal Use of Stimulant Drugs 67

Academic Dishonesty 68

Fake ID Use and Gambling 70

Other Research 73

Summary of Findings 74

Psychosocial Effects 79

Attitudes and Values Toward Self 79

Fraternity Involvement and Identity Formation 81

Sorority Involvement and Identity Formation 84

Sorority Body Image and Disordered Eating 87

Similarities in Identity Formation and Body Image 90

Depression, Self-Esteem, and Sense of Belonging 91

Moral Development and Ethical Issues 93

Attitudes Toward Others 94

Understanding Others and Diverse Experiences 95

Summary of Findings 97

Educational Effects 101

Research Methods and Terminology 102

Critical Thinking and Reasoning Skills 104

Academic Performance, Persistence, and Graduation 105

Other Educational Effects 106

Within-Group Comparison 107

Summary of Findings 108

Recommendations for Practice and Research 111

Recommendations for Campus Professionals and Policy Makers 111

Recommendations for Alumni and Volunteers 114

Recommendations for Inter/National Professionals 115

Recommendations for Fraternity and Sorority Collegiate Members 116

Recommendations for Future Research 118

Recommendations for Refining Research 120

Conclusion 121

References 123

Name Index 141

Subject Index 149

About the Authors 155