The purpose of this lab is to determine if there is a significant correlation between the lunar cycle and social activities and alcohol intake among Miami University college students living in dorms. We hypothesize that social activity and alcohol intake are directly linked to the stages of the moon. We hypothesize that decreased social activity and alcohol intake are associated with the full moon while increased social activity and alcohol intake are associated with the new moon.
College is a time when young people get their first taste of freedom. During the first six weeks of the new school year, we observed that many of our dorm mates participated in alcohol related social activities. We became interested in how these activities correlate with the cycles of the moon. Through studying the drinking and social patterns of our dorm mates, we hope to determine whether humanís social activities and alcohol intake are directly affected by nature.
There is an abundance of studies relevant to our subject. Evidence relating to lunar rhythms is present in numerous studies. Two different main approaches to the rhythms of the body are present in the scientific community. The first is the theory of circadian rhythms, proposed by Dr. Franz Halberg at the University of Minnesota. Incorporated in this theory is the idea that the humans, and other living organisms, posses a mean of regulating cycles. These cycles include the solar-day rhythms (24 hours), lunar-day rhythms (24.8 hours), lunar-synodic monthly rhythms (29.5 days) and yearly rhythms (Lieber, 48). Along with this study, a stipulation of disturbances caused by outside substances has been added. Heavy water, dalinomycin (an antibiotic), lithium and alcohol are all known to change the natural rhythms occurring in the body (Lieber, 48). Dr. Frank Brown is recognized as being the chief proponent of the second theory, the extrinsic timing theory of biological rhythms. His theory states that cosmic cycles influence organismal activity (Brown, 138). For example, the tides influence when the time is best for aquatic organisms to be active or to feed. It is therefore hypothesized that the lunar response is present in land animals as a consequence of their evolution from marine to land-dwelling creatures (Lieber, 50).
Bodily mechanisms were studied in an effort to determine the influence of circadian rhythms. In 1866, William Ogle discovered noted that there was a significant fluctuation in human body temperature that varied in relation to day and night (Moore-Ede, 3). Many corporations have conducted studies on worker-effectiveness and its relations to the body clock. Workers were found to be drastically less effective when working at night-time. Mid-night shift workers were less productive than the day-time workers (Biological Rhythms, 2). The workers that were forced to work against their circadian rhythms were noted to have experienced sleep deprivation, fatigue, familial and social problems (Nelson, 90). These instances provide evidence for the presence of circadian rhythms.
Others argue whether the presence of light from the moon influences the behavior of animals. The homing behavior of eels was found to be increased during the new and first quarter moon (Lamothe et. al., 398). Another study in Spain suggests that this increase in homing activity in European eels is due to the darkness that is related to these two phases of the moon (LaBar et. al., 115). The debate over whether the homing behavior is directly related to the lunar phases or the lack of light created by these phases continues.
Since lunar phases are thought to effect animal behavior, some scientists are exploring their effect on human behavior. According to a study done by Georgia State University Department of Psychology, lunar rhythms had a 26% impact on alcohol intake. This impact was demonstrated by an increase in alcohol intake during the new moon and a decrease during the full moon (Castro et. al., 439).
With the focus of alcohol related studies in mind, sociocultural factors on drinking were researched. Socioeconomically, college educated persons are more apt to drink than those with only a high school education. Gender studies show that men are more likely to use and abuse alcohol than women, but the womenís contention is on the rise. Urban and rural comparisons show that urban residents are more likely to drink than rural residents. There was also a link between geographic region, demonstrating that people living in the Northeast and along the West coast are more apt to drink than people who live in the South and Midwest (Zastrow, 459).
Along with alcohol intake in social situations, we will also examine romantic, friendly, work-related, etc. social interactions and the lack thereof.
Our method is based entirely on surveying a minimum of fifty Miami University students living in dormitories. Each student participant will receive a calender survey with three questions to answer every day. The answers will be marked on the specific days of the week on the calender. The subjects will be asked to fill out this survey every day for two months. This calender survey is the most important aspect of our experiment, as it is the sole source of our data.
The questions that the subjects are asked to answer reveal what kind of social event, if any, the student attended; how many drinks, if any, they had consumed; and how many people they were with, if any. The social interactions that we are interested in are romantic, friendly, work-related, or other interactions or the lack thereof.
To differentiate the population, participants are also asked to indicate their gender, dorm name, and major. The halls surveyed are only representative of the North Quad, and the Western Living-Learning Community of Miami University.
Finally, in order to interpret the data, the survey results will be compared and contrasted to the lunar calendar to find a correlation, if any between social activity and alcohol consumption.
The statistical aspects of our methodology leaves only minimal room for inaccuracy. Due to the two different communities studied, however, North Quad, and Western Quad, there may be some significant differences.
In an effort to keep our results from being skewed, the surveys will be anonymous, the subjects surveyed will be random, and we have developed standards for our questions. Our experimental design will yield accurate results unless participants lie or forget to write their answers down. In order to prevent the subjects from lying, we have made the survey anonymous, which will hopefully increase their comfort with answering potentially damaging questions. We will also suggest they place the paper somewhere where they will see it everyday. This will hopefully remind the subjects to answer the questions, thereby increasing the accuracy of our results.
The data will be most accurate if each participant follows through every day with their survey. We will send weekly e-mails to the participants to remind them to complete the surveys.
When two months have passed, we will collect the calender surveys and compile the data. We will compare the lunar calender to those calender surveys that we have collected and look for any significant correlations between the two.
During our teaching day in class we will assign each student a stereotypical social role (boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, workaholic, lonely loser, party animal). We will then ask the class to form a group with the other people in their same social role. In these groups, we will ask them to define the social activities of people in these roles. We will then explain the idea behind our study and our hypothesis. In these groups we will ask them to form their own way of collecting and analyzing the data needed to test our hypothesis. As a person in their assigned social role, we will then ask them to brainstorm causes, other than the moon cycles, that may affect their social activities in those roles. Following this activity, we will ask for some feedback and/or suggestions for our experiment.
October 1. Pass out surveys and get e-mail addresses.
October 8. 7:12 PM Send reminder e-mails to the participants.
October 15. Send reminder e-mails to the participants.
October 22. Send reminder e-mails to the participants.
October 29. Send reminder e-mails to the participants.
December 1. Collect surveys. Compile and compare data.
December 5. Finished product due.
Return to the Topic Menu
IMPORTANT: For each Response, make sure the title of the response is different than previous titles shown above!
Weather & Earth Science Resources
Tropical Ecosystem Courses
Tools & Other Stuff