College Students May Be More Protective of Intoxicated Female Friends Than Previously Thought

Despite common perceptions, college students are less willing to let their female friends engage in risky sexual behavior after a night of drinking alcohol, according to a new study.

Three quarters of the 141 surveyed undergraduate students said they would do all they could to make sure a female friend who was under the influence of alcohol was safe, either by making sure she didn't go home with a male stranger or by making sure she got home safely, according to researchers from Arizona State University and Indiana University-Purdue University.

Participants said they would use one of three tactics to ensure the female friend was safe: they would highlight regret that would be associated with the behavior, they would use trickery or deception or they would directly confront the friend.

"Our research suggests that the claim that college students routinely engage in risky sexual behavior while intoxicated may be exaggerated," study researcher Linda C. Lederman, an ASU communication professor, said in a statement.

The participants said they were more likely to let a female friend go home with a male acquaintance if they and their friends knew the male.

The tactics the participants would use to help a friend are similar to skills learned in a communication class, said study researcher Lisa Menegatos, an ASU graduate student. That means skills learned in the classroom can apply beyond the textbook, and in the personal lives of students.

The study was published in the journal Communication Education.

Live Science Staff
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