Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Risk attitudes and consequence of college drinking
Researchers at Kansas State University lead by Steve Benton have found that males tend to be greater risk takers when it comes to alcohol, while women tend to use more protective strategies

“My belief is that we have to face the fact that a certain percentage of college students will drink,” Steve Benton said. “So, what can we do to reduce the likelihood of them getting into trouble?”

The researchers looked at how risk, along with other factors, influence the way people behave. “Students who tend to have attitudes that make them greater risk takers are more likely to get into trouble when drinking…Even when controlling the amount of alcohol, it’s not how much you drink that affects the amount of trouble, but how risky you are,” Benton comments. Student who drink more heavily also are more likely to experience harm from their drinking if they have high-risk attitudes.

“We know that males tend to be heavier drinkers than females,” Steve Benton said. “The more you drink, the more you get into trouble. We found that the protective strategies are especially beneficial to male students, because they drink more than females, as well as to students who have six or more drinks.”

Strategies recommended by Benton in order to avoid trouble at parties, include being aware of their behaviour and how much they’re drinking; pacing their drinking over several hours; limiting their number of drinks, using self-protective strategies; limiting money spent on alcohol, drinking only with friends; pouring their own drinks and having low-risk attitudes. Even students who have more than six drinks are less likely to experience harm if they practice self-protective strategies, Steve Benton said.

The next stage of the study is to determine the right way to communicate about drinking issues.

The researchers’ paper has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol.

All text and images © 2003 Alcohol In Moderation.