ASA: Binge Drinking Confers Social Status at College

Binge drinking elevates prestige of lower status groups, increases social satisfaction

MONDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Binge drinking seems to be a measure of higher social status in college and is associated with greater social satisfaction, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, held from Aug. 17 to 20 in Denver.

Carolyn L. Hsu, Ph.D., and Landon D. Reid, Ph.D., from Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., and colleagues studied drinking habits and social satisfaction among distinct social groups of 1,595 students at a Northeastern liberal arts college.

The researchers found that binge drinking negated some of the effects of lower status on social satisfaction. Compared with their binge-drinking peers, lower levels of social satisfaction were reported by students of color; women; the less wealthy; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning; and non-fraternity/non-sorority members who were not binge drinkers. Levels of social satisfaction were comparable between members of low status groups who were binge drinkers and members of high status groups (wealthy, male, white, heterosexual, and Greek affiliated undergraduates), while members of high status groups that were not binge drinkers reported lower levels of social satisfaction than their binge drinking peers. Binge drinking may be a condition for receiving the full benefits of high status group membership.

"It's not that binge drinking is the solution to complex social problems," Hsu said in a statement. "Rather, it is our hope that when universities and public health professionals design alcohol-related programs for students, they take into account the full range and important social motivations underlying student binge drinking."

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