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Men, Women College Students Disagree on 'Attractive' Drinking


WASHINGTON, D. C., March 9, 2009 – College women across the country may think drinking is the way to impress a date, but a new study by a team of researchers at Loyola Marymount University suggests most college men are not looking for a woman to match them drink for drink.

The survey of 3,616 college students at two U.S. universities found an overwhelming majority of women overestimated the amount of alcohol a typical guy would like his female friends, dates or girlfriends to drink.

“Although traditionally, men drink more than women, research has shown that women have steadily been drinking more and more over the last several decades,” said the study’s lead author, Joseph LaBrie, associate professor of psychology at LMU. “Our research suggests women believe men find excessive drinking sexually attractive and appealing, but it appears this is a giant misperception.”

The other researchers on LaBrie’s research team included Jessica Cail, Justin F. Hummer and Andrew Lac, of LMU and Clayton Neighbors, of the University of Washington.

The researchers invited the participating students, ages 18 to 25, from LMU and the University of Washington to complete an online survey during the 2007 fall semester.  The women answered several questions, for example: On average, how many drinks would a typical college man would like his female friends to drink at a typical event, as well as the maximum number of drinks men would like their female friends to drink?

They then had to say how many drinks they thought a woman would have to drink for a guy to consider being friends with her, consider dating her or consider her sexually attractive? The men were asked their actual preferences.

The results, published in the March issue of “Psychology of Addictive Behaviors,” showed 71 percent of women overestimated the men’s actual preferences by an average of one-and-a-half drinks.

When the researchers looked at the different subgroups, 26 percent of women said that men would most likely want to be friends with a woman who drinks five or more drinks and 16 percent said that men would be most sexually attracted to a woman who drank that much alcohol.

Both estimates were nearly double what the men actually preferred. They also found the women who overestimated the men’s preferences were more likely to engage in excessive drinking.

“There is a great, and risky, disconnect here between the sexes,” said LaBrie. “While not all women may be drinking simply to get a guy’s attention, this may help explain why more women are drinking at dangerous levels. We believe universities and other public health organizations could use this information to help curb binge drinking among young women.”

The article is available at http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/adb231157.pdf

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