Public Relations Research Club

Students are shedding light on previously unstudied motivation behind college binge drinking in new research conducted through the Department of Advertising and Public Relations Research Club.

In a survey of 286 UT students, the study investigated four predictors of binge drinking, including drinking norms, and the perceived positive and negative consequences of drinking. The study additionally considered academic norms, which is the perception of pressure to perform well in school, according to Ming-Ching Liang, an advertising graduate student and researcher on the project.

“We are focusing especially on the academic norms, because these three: drinking norms and positive and negative consequences, previous research has already documented,” Liang said. 

This new approach to binge drinking research is an effort to view binge drinking from the perspective of students, according to Lee Ann Kahlor, associate advertising professor and sponsor of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations Research Club.

“What the students figured out was, no one had ever looked at what it’s like to be a student,” Kahlor said. “What does it mean in terms of blowing off steam? Or feeling so stressed throughout the week that the weekend comes and they’re like, ‘Man, I need a drink?’”

Karen Han, an advertising graduate student and researcher on the project, said the study concludes that academic pressure contributes to binge drinking. 

“If students feel pressured in their schoolwork, then they’ll drink more,” Han said. 

Kahlor also said the study is a new insight into binge drinking behavior.

“All of [the variables] contributed significantly to the students’ likelihood to drink more,” Kahlor said. “And that’s really exciting because as far as we know, we’re the only researchers who have looked at those academic norms and how they contribute along with those other pressures or expectations.”