Drinking habits have recently been the subject of a study to reveal even more differences between men and women. The results show that intoxicated men tend to be described by others in exaggerated drunk terms, while generally the descriptions regarding women are downplayed.
These findings come out of a recent study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research online on July 10. What is clear from this study is that drunk guys are often described by college students as “hammered,” whereas drunk girls are described as merely “tipsy.”
Ash Levitt, a research scientist at the Research Institute on Addictions at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, said in a press release that “Drinkers use a complex set of physical and cognitive indicators to estimate intoxication,” and that “Understanding this language is important as these terms reflect levels of intoxication as well as whether individuals are accurately estimating intoxication levels when they use these terms.”
A survey was administered to 145 undergraduate students between the ages of 17 and 22 years old. The survey contained one of eight different vignettes involving alcohol consumption. The stories told were centered around celebrations in a bar for a friend’s birthday. A full picture of the main character was given to each participant including their personality and how many drinks they had consumed within a three hour period.
The general description of the character behaving moderately drunk given by both men and women are terms such as “buzzed,” “lightheaded” or “tipsy.”
However if the character showed signs of being heavily drunk, generally the description for the male character would be “hammered,” “wasted,” or “trashed.” For the female character moderate-level terms were used for her descriptions.
Levitt boils the differences in descriptions down to simple stereotypes for why the descriptions of women’s drinking habits are underestimated.
He explains that the fact that women “tend to avoid natural language labels that indicate excessive consumption indicates awareness of a gender-based double standard in which drinking women, and perhaps especially drunk women, are judged more harshly than men.” He added that this type of thinking could lead to dangerous situations such as drunk driving and even a higher chance of women becoming victims of sexual abuse.
Earlier research by Mark Wood a professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island, supports these theories. He notes that subjects would tend to believe that if a woman drinks moderately while on a date, she is more likely to have sex at the end o the night and to be more promiscuous than if she had been drinking soda all evening.
Wood also said that this new study shows that there may be social pressure put on men to drink more than they should because that is what they believe is expected of them.
No matter what the differences between the sexes are, this study provides valuable insight into how to treat harmful drinking habits in both men and women from a social perspective.