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Female drinkers ‘underestimate intoxication levels’

Female drinkers are more likely to underestimate how intoxicated they are after consuming alcohol, a new study has revealed.

According to research carried out at the University at Buffalo and the University of Rhode Island, men tend to exaggerate the impact of alcohol on their system, describing themselves with strong terms like “hammered” and “wasted”.

By contrast, women were found to downplay the effects of drink, preferring lighter descriptive terms such as “tipsy” and “buzzed”.

As a result, researchers believe females might be particularly bad at judging whether or not they are fit to drive after consuming alcohol.

Ash Levitt, a scientist at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute of Addictions, commented: “Women may be at increased risk for alcohol-related consequences such as drunk-driving if they or their friends underestimate how intoxicated they are by using moderate terms like ‘tipsy’ to describe them, when in fact they are heavily intoxicated and heavy terms would be more accurate.”

Mark Wood, a psychology professor at the University of Rhode Island, added that little research has been carried out into the type of language people use to describe how drunk they might be.

He said the discovery that men tend to talk up excessive alcohol consumption and that women do the opposite corresponds with how drinking males and drinking females are “differentially perceived”.

Indeed, Mr Wood argued that there is a gender-based double standard when it comes to heavy drinking, with intoxicated women being “judged more harshly” than men.

He therefore believes the findings have “clear implications for prevention and intervention work with men and women”.

Mr Wood said the next step for researchers will be to determine whether or not the inaccuracies in describing intoxication could help to predict alcohol-related consequences for both males and females.

He suggested clinicians could then use these findings to change people’s behaviour. For instance, men could be taught to avoid believing that being “hammered” is “typical and acceptable”, while female drinkers could be warned of the potential dangers they might face if they misjudge how drunk they are.

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