Sorry Ladies, Those Shots Aren’t Sexy

The cliche goes that women spend hours, weeks, years, even entire lifetimes trying to figure out how to land a man. Well, there’s one item every lady looking to impress a fellow can cross off her list: Drinking. As drinking becomes the pastime of choice across college campuses, many women have started trying to match their male counterparts drink for drink in an effort to make an impression. An impression she might make, but a new study shows it isn’t a good one.

The study surveyed 3,616 college students, ages 18-25, hailing from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and the University of Washington. The female participants filled out a questionnaire asking them how many drinks they thought males wanted women to consume: the number of drinks to be considered friend-worthy, dateable, or sexually attractive. The survey also asked for the maximum number of drinks a male would want a woman to consume and still be interested in her. The male participants were asked for their actual preferences. The women also noted how much they drank in an average week or month and how much they thought the average woman at their university drank in any given week.

It turns out 71% of these female co-eds were vastly overestimating the amount males wanted them to drink. On average, they overestimated by one-and-a-half drinks. Over a quarter of the women thought men were more likely to buddy up with a women who drinks five or more drinks. The true answer? Men expect women to consume around 2.5 drinks. 16 percent of women thought men would be most sexually attracted to women who downed the 5+ servings of their choice poison. In actuality? Men prefer nearly half that amount.

The lead author on the publication, Joseph LaBrie, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Loyola Marymount University, says, “Although traditionally, men drink more than women, research has shown that women have steadily been drinking more and more over the last several decades. Our research suggests women believe men find excessive drinking sexually attractive and appealing, but it appears this is a giant misperception.” The study is published in the March issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

Not all women are drinking solely to impress men; the study did find, however, that the women who overestimated the men’s preferences were more likely to engage in excessive drinking. “There is a great, and risky, disconnect here between the sexes,” said LaBrie. “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.”

Lest you think researchers are clinging to worn-out female stereotypes: Professor LaBrie is doing a second study that asks men how many drinks they think women want them to knock back in an evening. Though it’s hard to believe that guy over there doing a keg stand or his pal funneling beers to his left are trying to impress the ladies, they might actually be doing just that.

So, ladies: don’t drink ’em under the table. Have fun, know your limit, and let the men deal with the hang-over.