The Associations among Alcohol Use, Ethnicity and Schizotypy in a New Zealand Undergraduate Population
Previous research has shown that identification as an ethnic minority and high alcohol use are each associated with risk of schizophrenia (schizotypy). However, the question of whether these two factors interact has not been addressed. The aim of the present study was to identify correlations among alcohol use, ethnicity and schizotypy. Undergraduate students (n = 500) from the University of Otago completed questionnaires assessing schizotypy, alcohol and drug use, and demographic information. Participants also reported on their family history of mental illness, and personal depression, anxiety and stress levels. It was hypothesised that ethnic minorities would have greater schizotypy scores. It was also expected that individuals who report Māori descent, but not Māori identity, would exhibit higher schizotypy scores compared to individuals who report both descent and ethnic identification. Whereas high alcohol use was expected to be associated with higher schizotypy scores, this effect was expected to be exacerbated for individuals of ethnic minorities, and those who reported incongruent ethnic identity and descent. The results indicate a positive association of both Asian and Māori identities, with higher schizotypy scores. However, alcohol use was found to be negatively associated with interpersonal, disorganised, and total schizotypy scores. A significant interaction was established between Asian drinkers and higher disorganised scores. Māori descendants who did not identify as being Māori did not exhibit significantly higher schizotypy scores, compared to those who reported congruent identity. These results may reflect the way in which New Zealand university students view alcohol use. The results of this study may increase the understanding of alcohol use and ethnicity as potential schizotypal risk factors. This information may also be useful in the development of support groups or interventions for those with a heightened risk of developing schizophrenia.
Advisor: Linscott, Richard
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: schizotypy; alcohol; ethnicity; undergraduate; New Zealand
Research Type: Thesis