Surprise: Binge-Drinking College Students Happier, More Social According to Study

To the shock of no one anywhere come the results of a study by Colgate University's associate professor of sociology Carolyn Hsu.

According to Hsu, college students are well aware of what binge drinking is and what the consequences are -- and they'll continue to drink and get drunk because it makes them happy and cool.

Hsu and her research partners surveyed almost 1,600 students at a "selective residential liberal arts college in the Northeast," according to the study presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver, of those students, 64 percent said they participated in binge drinking (defined as consuming more than four drinks on one occasion for women, more than five for men) at least one time during a two-week period.

"The present study offers another insight into the nature of a seemingly intractable social problem," writes Hsu and her team in the paper. "It is our hope that by drawing attention to the important social motivations underlying binge drinking, institutional administrators and public health professionals will be able to design and implement programs for students that take into account the full range of reasons that students binge drink."

Namely, that binge drinking (according to a majority of students surveyed) is a "prerequisite" for social status. Hsu writes students in "high-status" groups -- typically white rich guys in fraternities -- were more socially satisfied than those in "low-status" groups -- typically female minorities not in sororities. But she also notes that these "low-status" students were able to gain access to groups of their "cooler, higher-status" classmates by binge drinking.

The unpublished goes on to note that the participants admitted that affects of binge drinking included alcoholism, violence, poor grades and risky sexual behavior.

Cheers to cool college kids.

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton