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How Much Should Women Drink? It Depends on Who You Ask

College-age females overestimate 'need' to consume alcohol, survey finds,,

FRIDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- College women, listen up: You don't need to drink to excess to impress college men, a new study has found.

"Although traditionally, men drink more than women, research has shown that women have steadily been drinking more and more over the last several decades," study author Joseph LaBrie, an associate professor of psychology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, said in a news release from the American Psychological Association. "Our research suggests women believe men find excessive drinking sexually attractive and appealing, but it appears this is a giant misperception."

In fact, nearly three-fourths of the female students surveyed at two U.S. universities, Loyola and the University of Washington, overestimated how much alcohol they need to imbibe to interest their male counterparts. These women were the same ones who also tended to drink to excess, according to the research, published in the March issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

The researchers surveyed 3,616 college students about women's drinking habits and men's views of drinking by women.

Most of the women overestimated, by an average of a drink-and-a-half, how much men would like them to drink at any given event. About 26 percent said they thought men would most likely want to be friends with a woman who drinks five or more drinks, and 16 percent said women who drank the most attracted men sexually.

Both estimates were twice what the men said they actually preferred.

"There is a great, and risky, disconnect here between the sexes," LaBrie said. "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."

A follow-up study by LaBrie is underway to determine how men think women view male drinking habits to see if the perception might have a similar effect on men's drinking habits.

More information

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more on drinking and health.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Psychological Association, news release, March 2009

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