A study unveiled at this year's American Sociological Association meeting purports to show that college students who engage in binge drinking are, on average, happier and more socially satisfied than those who practice moderation.
Colgate University associate professor of sociology Carolyn Hsu, who co-authored the study, says that, despite being aware of the ills associated with binge drinking, students continue to overdo their alcoholic consumption because of a link between binge drinking and improved social status.
According to ABC News' Medical Unit, which has access to the complete study, "binge drinking is defined as consuming more than four drinks per session for females and consuming more than five drinks per session for males."
The study, which relied on the survey responses of some 1,600 students from "a selective residential liberal arts college in the Northeast," found that social satisfaction was high among members of high-status groups (i.e. wealthy, white, frat boys) compared to low-status groups (i.e. poor, LGBTQ non-Greek minorities).
That part is not particularly surprising, but what the authors did find intriguing was that low-status students were able to elevate their social satisfaction to the level of high-status students by binge drinking. Additionally, students who belonged to high-status groups were less socially satisfied if they did not binge drink.
Also of interest is that the majority of the 64 percent who claimed to be binge drinkers, most were mimicking the behavior of high-status group members in order to elevate their social status.
In the study, which has yet to be released, the authors say they hope awareness of underlying social motivations will allow "institutional administrators and public health professionals...to design and implement programs for students that take into account the full range of reasons that students binge drink."
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