News Release

I've only had a couple! Students underestimate their bad drinking behavior

Peer-Reviewed Publication

British Psychological Society

That is the key finding of research conducted by Dr Emma Davies, along with Dr Sarah Hennelly and Emma-Ben Lewis, which is being presented today at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference in Brighton.

Dr Davies, from Oxford Brookes University, said: "Excessive drinking is known to be an issue within student populations, and this research suggests some of the reasons for campus drinking culture and why previous intervention attempts have tended to be unsuccessful."

An online survey was completed by 416 students, 68.5 per cent of them female, from universities across the UK, who were asked to compare both their consumption of alcohol and their behaviour when under the influence to that of other drinkers.

The greatest misperceptions were found in males, particularly those aged 21 and under, with a significant proportion of them also reporting that their behaviour when they drank alcohol was less unruly than others.

Further analysis suggested that they also considered themselves to be more in control of their own actions when drinking than other students.

There was a desire to distance themselves from negative drinking stereotypes such as loud and aggressive behaviour, with the students instead seeing themselves as fun or energetic after consuming alcohol.

Dr Davies added: "This research shows that students consistently view their behaviour whilst drinking in a positive light when compared with that of others. "They also suggest that their own drunken behaviour is generally motivated by a desire to have fun but judge others more harshly, as deliberately aggressive or out of control. "Future interventions aimed at reducing excessive drinking must take these factors in to account, rather than exclusively focusing on alcohol consumption, if they are to be successful."


For further information BEFORE THE CONFERENCE contact the British Psychological Society Press Centre: 0116 252 9500 / 07773 173 510 or email

DURING THE CONFERENCE (3 to 5 May) call the conference press office on: 07793 800 366 / 07773 173 510 or email

PR17.036 Thursday 27 April 2017

Editor's notes

Full poster presentation title: "I am quite mellow but I wouldn't say everyone else is": A mixed methods exploration of normative misperceptions of alcohol consumption and selfevaluation of drinking behaviour compared to others'

The British Psychological Society annual conference takes place from 3 - 5 May at the Hilton Brighton Metropole. For details of the programme visit

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The BPS is the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK. We are responsible for the development, promotion and application of psychology for the public good. For more information visit

Set in a historic student city, Oxford Brookes is one of the UK's leading universities and enjoys an international reputation for teaching excellence and innovation as well as strong links with business and industry. More information is available on the Oxford Brookes website at

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