Research finds UK students underestimate their bad drinking behaviour

Friday, 05 May 2017

Friends drinking

Students studying across the UK believe that they are better behaved and more in control than their friends whilst out drinking.

That is the key finding of research conducted by Dr Emma Davies, along with Dr Sarah Hennelly and Emma-Ben Lewis from Oxford Brookes University, which is being presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Brighton today (Friday 5 May).

Dr Emma Davies, Lecturer in Psychology and Alcohol Studies, said: “Excessive drinking is known to be an issue within student populations and this research suggests some of the reasons for campus drinking culture and why previous intervention attempts have tended to be unsuccessful.”

this research suggests some of the reasons for campus drinking culture and why previous intervention attempts have tended to be unsuccessful.

Dr Emma Davies, Lecturer in Psychology and Alcohol Studies, Oxford Brookes University

An online survey was completed by 416 students, 68.5 of them female, from universities across the UK, who were asked to compare both their consumption of alcohol and their behaviour when under the influence to that of other drinkers.

The greatest misperceptions were found in males, particularly those aged 21 and under, with a significant proportion of them also reporting that their behaviour when they drank alcohol was less unruly than others.

Further analysis suggested that they also considered themselves to be more in control of their own actions when drinking than other students.

There was a desire to distance themselves from negative drinking stereotypes such as loud and aggressive behaviour, with the students instead seeing themselves as fun or energetic after consuming alcohol.

Dr Davies added: “This research shows that students consistently view their behaviour whilst drinking in a positive light when compared to that of others.

“They also suggest that their own drunken behaviour in generally motivated by a desire to have fun but judge others more harshly, as deliberately aggressive or out of control.

“Future interventions aimed at reducing excessive drinking must take these factors in to account, rather than exclusively focusing on alcohol consumption, if they are to be successful.”

Dr Emma Davies is currently part of collaborative investigation into the benefits of sober-raving and researching attitudes and perceptions of alcohol-free music events, as a means of reducing alcohol consumption in young people.