Page last updated:September 28, 2012
Binge drinking to fit in at US colleges

College students who binge drink perceive that they have a better college experience than their peers who don’t.
A paper presented at the American Sociological Association annual meeting in Denver in August reported that  females, students of colour, homosexual students and poorer students who binge drink reported feeling more satisfied with their collegiate experience than their peers who didn’t. The 1,595 students interviewed in the study attend an anonymous liberal arts college in the north-eastern US that is mostly male, white and heterosexual.
Within the more socially satisfied white, wealthy and straight male students, again, the binge drinkers reported having a more positive social collegiate experience than those who didn’t binge drink.
Instead of drinking because they were part of a low-status social group, students used binge drinking as a tool to feel included in campus life. By imitating the behaviours of the higher-status groups – who binge drink at higher rates than the lower-status groups – they seemed to have received more social acceptance.
“What we have evidence of, is that the high social power groups are defining the norms on campus,” co-author of the study, sociologist Carolyn Hsu commented, “They are defining what is and what is not popular, what is the right way to fit in on this campus or not.”
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