College binge drinkers happier, higher status

Aug. 20, 2012 at 9:34 PM
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HAMILTON, N.Y., Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Binge drinking in college is associated with higher status and binge drinkers appear happier than their abstaining peers, U.S. researchers say.

Study co-author Carolyn L. Hsu, an associate professor of sociology at Colgate University, and Landon Reid, a former faculty member at Colgate now attending law school at New York University, said students from higher status groups -- wealthy, male, white, heterosexual and Greek-affiliated undergraduates -- were consistently happier with their college social experience than their peers from lower status groups -- less wealthy, female, non-white, non-heterosexuals and non-Greek-affiliated undergraduates.

In addition, students from higher status groups were more likely than their peers from lower status groups to binge drink.

"Students who are considered more socially powerful, drink more," Hsu said in a statement. "Binge drinking then becomes associated with high status and the 'cool' students on campus."

The study used study data of 1,600 undergraduates attending a selective Northeastern residential liberal arts college in 2009.

The study found when students from lower status groups engaged in binge drinking, their social satisfaction was higher than that of their non-binge drinking peers from lower status groups.

Binge drinking tended to attenuate the negative effects of being from a low status group on students' college social experience, while white, wealthy, Greek-affiliated, heterosexual and male students who did not binge drink, were less happy with their social lives than students from those groups that did binge drink.

The findings were presented in the 107th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver.

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