With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, affectionately known as Singles Awareness Day, many individuals will undoubtedly engage in two things: 1. thinking about a possible, or former, romantic partner, and 2. drinking one or two (or three…) alcoholic beverages.
Alcohol lowers our inhibition levels, which may cause us to express messages that we may not normally express if we were sober. This happens when we over-share on a second date (too much wine?), call a former romantic partner, or text/Snapchat graphic images. This may be especially pronounced within a culture of random sexual hookups and binge drinking. Consider that alcohol is a common theme of random sexual hookups (see a previous entry). Binge drinking is common, and the CDC defines binge drinking as a BAC .08+. What does the CDC say this looks like? For women, it is consuming 4+ drinks in a two-hour period; for men, it is consuming 5+ drinks in a two-hour period.
With the above information in mind, two questions remain unanswered: 1. Why do individuals engage in cell phone communication when intoxicated, and 2. Is it only about sex? Recent research by Ferris and Hollenbaugh addressed this question. Their findings are subsequently reviewed, though it is important to note that their study only addressed phone communication (not text messaging, online communication, hook-up application communication, etc.).
Based on their study of 433 individuals who were about 20 years old, they identified five motives driving drunk dialing behavior (note that the average age is under the legal drinking age):
Although society loves to celebrate sex differences, or the idea that men and women are so different, research documents that one’s sex accounts for little variance in their communication. Consistent with this finding, there were no sex differences in the frequency of drunk dialing behaviors.
Collectively, the above information describes why people engage in phone communication while intoxicated. Future research is necessary to understand how this relates to text messaging, sending photos, and overall “sexting” behavior.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, remember to not drink and dial…
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Ferris, A. L., & Hollenbaugh, E. E. (2011). Drinking and dialing: An exploratory study of why college students make cell phone calls intoxicated. Ohio Communication Journal, 49, 103-126.