University at Buffalo Study Explores Gender Differences in How College Students Describe Inebriated Friends

us_u_nybResearchers at the Research Institute on Addictions at the University at Buffalo, a campus of the State University of New York system, found that college-aged men and women tended to describe their inebriated friends in different terms. The researchers asked college students to read an account for four friends, two men and two women, who were drinking in a bar. Various accounts were used that altered the gender of the main character and how much alcohol the characters were drinking. The participants were asked to assign descriptive terms to the characters based on the subject’s level of intoxication. Survey participants were given terms considered to show a moderate level of intoxication such as “buzzed” or “tipsy” as well as terms considered to show drunkedness such as “hammered,” “plastered,” or “smashed.”

The results showed that survey participants were more likely to characterize women in the accounts with terms that implied moderate levels of inebriation while men were more likely to be identified with terms denoting a high level of alcohol use. Women in the accounts were often characterized with moderate terms even when they have been drinking heavily.

The authors state that college men are often expected to drink to access as a measure of masculinity but heavy drinking is often perceived as less acceptable for women. Thus womens’ level of inebriation is often downplayed.

But when women’s level of intoxication is considered less serious than is actually the case, their friends may believe they are more capable of driving and less vulnerable to sexual assault than is actually the case.

The research, “Gender Differences in Natural Language Factors of Subjective Intoxication in College Students: An Experimental Vignette Study” has been published on the website of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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