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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Gender Differences in Natural Language Factors of Subjective Intoxication in College Students: An Experimental Vignette Study

Examining the natural language college students use to describe various levels of intoxication can provide important insight into subjective perceptions of college alcohol use. Previous research (Levitt et al., Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2009; 33: 448) has shown that intoxication terms reflect moderate and heavy levels of intoxication and that self-use of these terms differs by gender among college students. However, it is still unknown whether these terms similarly apply to other individuals and, if so, whether similar gender differences exist.
To address these issues, the current study examined the application of intoxication terms to characters in experimentally manipulated vignettes of naturalistic drinking situations within a sample of university undergraduates (n = 145).
Findings supported and extended previous research by showing that other-directed applications of intoxication terms are similar to self-directed applications and depend on the gender of both the target and the user. Specifically, moderate intoxication terms were applied to and from women more than men, even when the character was heavily intoxicated, whereas heavy intoxication terms were applied to and from men more than women.
The findings suggest that gender differences in the application of intoxication terms are other-directed as well as self-directed and that intoxication language can inform gender-specific prevention and intervention efforts targeting problematic alcohol use among college students.

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