In a finding that won’t astonish most, a new British study shows that college students usually underestimate how badly they behave when they’re drinking.
“”Excessive drinking is known to be an issue within student populations, and this research suggests some of the reasons for [the] campus drinking culture and why previous intervention attempts have tended to be unsuccessful,” explained study co-author Emma Davies, from Oxford Brookes University.
In the online survey, 416 students from British universities compared their behavior when they drank alcohol to that of other drinkers. Typically, they thought they were the life of the party, while believing others were just unruly and loud.
Men, especially those aged 21 and older, were most likely to harbor this mistaken belief, and to think that they were more in control of their actions than other drinkers.
The respondents didn’t believe they were loud and aggressive when drinking, but rather fun or energetic, according to the study. It is scheduled to be presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the British Psychological Society, in Brighton.
“This research shows that students consistently view their behavior whilst drinking in a positive light when compared with that of others,” Davies said in a society news release.
“They also suggest that their own drunken behavior is generally motivated by a desire to have fun, but [they] judge others more harshly, as deliberately aggressive or out of control,” she added.
“Future interventions aimed at reducing excessive drinking must take these factors into account, rather than exclusively focusing on alcohol consumption, if they are to be successful,” Davies noted.
Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more about college drinking.