Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/07/fancy_dress_research/

Why do women get plastered at fancy dress parties?

No idea, admit US researchers

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 7th January 2008 11:08 GMT

US researchers have admitted they cannot explain why women are more likely than men to get legless at sexually-themed fancy dress parties - a shock finding which is the only known exception to the rule that chaps will invariably sink more alcohol at social gatherings than the ladies.

Yes indeed, in the great tradition of ground-breaking investigations into bovine lesbianism, scientists from the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Studies at San Diego State University breathalysed 1,304 people who'd enjoyed 66 student parties in southern California.

They confirmed the drunk(er) bloke rule "except when [the parties] involved guests wearing fancy dress - especially with a sexual theme", as the Telegraph puts it.

The centre's big cheese, Dr John Clapp, lead author of the researchers' report in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, said: "One of the more interesting findings was that young women drank more heavily than males at themed events. It is rare to find any situation where women drink more than men, and these events tended to have sexualised themes and costumes."

Specifically, the "average Breath Alcohol Content (BrAC) of men did not vary between fancy dress and non-themed parties - 37 mg alcohol per 1,000 ml of breath compared to 36 mg/1,000ml".

Female guests at fancy dress parties, on the other hand, had "average BrAC readings of 49 mg/1,000ml, compared to 33 mg/1,000ml at gatherings without themes".

In case this isn't scientific enough for you, the breath test team noted "types of party, size, loudness of music, drug use, drinking games and types of alcohol consumed".

Dr Clapp added that "his findings were more accurate than previous studies because his team attended the parties rather than basing their findings on attendees' hazy memories".

He defended: "Most studies use survey methods that require people to recall their drinking behaviour - days, weeks or months prior - and such recall is not always accurate. By going out into the field and doing observations and surveys, including breath tests for alcohol concentrations, we were able to mitigate many of the problems associated with recall of behaviour and complex settings."

Dr Clapp admitted that "as his team was unable to explain the surprise finding it would be necessary to carry out further field work", concluding: "Given that some theme parties can be highly sexualised, future investigation of the mechanisms that may explain this effect is warranted." ®

Bootnote

Thanks to Chris Winpenny for the heads-up.