Drinking study too shallow

When you watch the characters in The Hangover consume alcohol, does that prompt you to binge drink in your own life?

An international study says so, but concrete reality begs to differ.

In a study published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday, researchers from Europe and the United States surveyed students from six different countries, aged 10- to 19- years- old, to find out if there is a correlation between the presence of alcohol in popular movies and the likelihood of binge drinking during adolescence.

Students were presented with a random selection of 50 movies, all of which were among the 250 most successful movies in their respective countries for the past two years. The students were also asked the old adage to quantify binge drinking: “How often have you had five or more drinks of alcohol on one occasion?” The study reported that overall 27 percent had consumed the “five or more” drinks on at least one occasion.

After controlling for age, gender, family affluence, school performance, television screen time, sensation seeking and rebelliousness, as well as drinking habits of peers, parents and siblings, the researchers concluded that there is a significant link.

How can these factors be completely left out of the equation? Each element plays a crucial role in our decision and likelihood to drink, arguably much more than seeing a couple cosmopolitans tossed back in Abu Dhabi in Sex and the City 2.

Correlation is not causation. Studies like these step over important aspects of binge drinking that deserve attention and research.

The study also seeks to establish that adolescent binge drinking is a cross-cultural problem, which is worth more attention than the supposed “correlation” with drinking in movies. Clearly, binge drinking is a systemic problem in the Western world. Though the United States’ higher drinking age is often blamed for our culture of binge drinking, the phenomenon isn’t confined to this side of the Atlantic.

In short: Keep watching The Hangover. You probably won’t become an alcoholic.


Elena Kadvany is a senior majoring in Spanish.