Does Binge Drinking Make College Students Happier?
Over recent years, the news has been filled with articles about the risks of binge drinking. Those articles have pointed out both the health and social risks of binge drinking. This makes a recent discovery by the American Sociological Society quite disturbing. That study reveals that college students that binge drink are happier than students that do not participate in binge drinking.
The study references that students may tend to binge drink because they feel that is what is expected of college students.
The study also mentions that students find that they are more accepted by others when they binge drink which leads to the phenomon of increased happiness.
“Binge drinking is a symbolic proxy for higher social status in college and is correspondingly related to greater social satisfaction,” writes Carolyn Hsu, lead author on the study and chair of Sociology and Anthropology at Colgate University.
This creates a cycle of desire for acceptance and positive reinforcement for binge drinking that can be quite disturbing.
“The insight that people drink to attain social status is not [new],” says David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Alcohol marketers intentionally market social aspirations — for example, an ad for Johnnie Walker from the 1990s had the bottle suspended from wires with other objects floating around it, like a mobile — and the tag-line was ‘Upwardly mobile.’”
“Low status students in particular seem to be using binge drinking as a vehicle for social mobility and as a way to contend with an otherwise hostile social environment,” Hsu said.
Hsu points out this study is limited to one school. Despite the limited data, she points out social reinforcement increases the trend.
The study was conducted at a elite northeastern university using data from nearly 1,600 undergraduates
The results were released Monday at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver.