Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Science of Toga Parties

January 5, 2008
The Science of Toga Parties
By John Tierney

Tags: alcohol, anthropology

Field work can be hell. But thanks to the dogged researchers who attended 66 college parties in Southern California, now at last it can revealed:

Playing drinking games at a party leads to increased levels of alcohol in the bloodstream.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the only result of the investigation reported in the January issue of January issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The researchers say their fieldwork, which involved studying more than 1,300 people at parties, is an improvement over past studies that relied on people’s recollections of getting hammered. These researchers made observations at the parties and brought along equipment to test students’ blood-alcohol concentrations (BrACs). One of the authors, J.D. Clapp of San Diego State University, summarizes the findings:

Both individual behavior and the environment matter when it comes to student-drinking behavior. At the individual level, playing drinking games and having a history of binge drinking predicted higher BrACs. At the environmental level, having a lot of intoxicated people at a party and themed events predicted higher BrACs. One of the more interesting findings was that young women drank more heavily than males at themed events. It is rare to find any situation where women drink more than men, and these events tended to have sexualized themes and costumes.

The researchers say they’re planning to do further investigations of themed parties, and I hope they’ll consider letting a journalist accompany them (if necessary, I would go in costume). I don’t know why women would drink more at themed parties, but I do have a hypothesis: Could it be a coping mechanism for dealing with the sight of guys like John Belushi dressed in togas?

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