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Men Say 'Hammered', Women Say 'Buzzed': Just Semantics or Deeper Meaning?

Update Date: Jul 11, 2013 08:52 PM EDT

When it comes to drinking, men and women are as different as it gets. Men say they are feeling "hammered", while women tend to say they just a little "buzzed," is there a difference?

The study, published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, asked college boys and girls to describe how they feel after they've had some alcohol to drink. They found that men tend to exaggerate how drunk they are, while women tended to use more moderate terms like "tipsy" or "buzzed" to women, even when they were heavily intoxicated. Men used terms like "hammered," "trashed" or "wasted."

"Drinkers use a complex set of physical and cognitive indicators to estimate intoxication," said Ash Levitt, a research scientist at the Research Institute on Addictions at the University at Buffalo, SUNY.

"In order to quickly and easily communicate various levels of intoxication, drinkers distill these indicators down into distinct sets of natural language terms for intoxication, such as 'tipsy' or 'wasted.' Understanding this language is important as these terms reflect levels of intoxication as well as whether individuals are accurately estimating intoxication levels when they use these terms."

In a study conducted in 2007, scientists surveyed 145 undergrads at a Midwestern university, asking them to apply drunken descriptors to a range of fictional vignettes featuring men or women.

Saying that one is feeling "tipsy" when they are in fact, very drunk, isn't just semantics, according to study co-author Ash Levitt, a research scientist at the Research Institute on Addictions at University of Buffalo, SUNY.

"One potential real-world implication that this research suggests is that women may be at increased risk for alcohol-related consequences such as drunk driving if they or their friends underestimate how intoxicated they are ... when, in fact, they are heavily intoxicated and heavy terms would be more accurate," he said in a statement.

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