The Personality Types of Student Drinkers – Are You One?

It’s not news that drinking on college campuses is widespread.  According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about four out of five college students drink alcohol.  And, about half of those students who drink, also consume alcohol through binge drinking.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), producers of the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, defines binge drinking as drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days.   Generally speaking, this will be after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in about 2 hours time.

Also of consideration is the affect this drinking has on college students as well as their communities, friends and families.  The NIAAA has identified the following consequences of student drinking for those between the ages of 18 and 24:

  • Death:    1,825 college students die each year from alcohol-related injuries that are deemed otherwise unintentional.
  • Assault:    More than 690,000 students are assaulted by a fellow student who has been drinking.
  • Sexual Abuse:    More than 97,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
  • Injury:    599,000 students receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Academic:   About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, and receiving lower grades overall.
  • Health Problems:  More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem
  • Suicide:   Between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students attempted suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.

Now, preliminary research out of the University of Missouri-Columbia could explain why some students behave in these harmful ways when drinking or drunk, while others don’t.  In a study of 374 student drinkers, results have suggested there are four different types of undergrad drinkers:

  • Hemingways – drinkers whose drinking had less effect on their intellect and conscientiousness than typical, named in reference to the writer’s reputed imperviousness to alcohol
  • Nutty Professors – sober introverts who became highly extraverted and unconscientious when drunk, who experienced the greatest overall personality shift, are named after the Jerry Lewis character
  • Mary Poppinses – Pleasant and agreeable personalities when sober, who retain these traits when drunk, and experience the slightest alcohol related change, named after Mary Poppins herself.
  • Hydes – Named for this moody character for their large change in agreeableness and intellect when drunk.

According to researchers, the last group of Mr. Hydes is of most interest.  While none of the types were associated with consuming more alcohol or binge drinking, the Mr. Hydes group did correlate to alcohol’s negative consequences including poor grades, negative behaviors including regrettable sex, and day-after cravings.

More studies could reveal either psychological or genetic factors that determine each type – and aide future predictors or treatments.  Have you seen any of these drinking types in yourself, or your friends?