'Obvious' Studies? Cheap Beer Makes College Students Drink More

Photo: Obvious Studies? Cheap Beer Makes College Students Drink More: While Some Studies Seem to Be No-Brainers, Scientists Say the Findings Are Useful

The cheaper the beer, the more of it that college students will drink. Men are more open than women to a stranger's proposition for sex. The opposite sex looks more attractive after a few drinks.

To many, the above statements may seem obvious. But to some researchers, they may be the starting point for months of study, culminating in published research.


But is such research worth the time, effort and money that goes into it?

For some topics, the surprising answer may be yes. In the case of the study concerning the relationship between alcohol prices and college drinking, the researchers say that a greater understanding of this relationship could help foster more knowledge of alcohol use in general among college students – and potentially save thousands of students from death and injury from alcohol-related mishaps.

In other cases, however, the exact aim of research may be an enigma.

"There's plenty of research out there that doesn't need to be done, and why somebody funds it is one of the great mysteries of life," said Merrill Goozner, director of the integrity in science project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Marc Abrahams, editor of Improbable Research, an organization that tracks unusual research studies, said that with thousands of medical journals published in the United States, part of the reason there are so many studies is simply because of the way academia works.

"In order to get hired, in order to keep your job and to get promoted, you have to publish a lot of studies," Abrahams told ABCNews.com. "There are an awful lot of studies that were done apparently because somebody needed to get some more things on their resume."

The following pages take a look at some of the research that has covered what some would call common knowledge. But what you read may surprise you.

The Cheaper the Beer, the More College Students Drink

When the price of booze goes up, college students will drink less of it -- and they'll be less likely to leave a saloon drunk, according to a survey of patrons leaving college area bars in Florida.

Even slight increases in the price of drinks led to decreases in the quantity of alcohol consumed, according to Ryan O'Mara and colleagues from the University of Florida in Gainesville in research reported online Tuesday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

The cost per gram of alcohol predicted drinking habits even after researchers adjusted for other factors such as gender, body mass index, and the "intention to get drunk."

The findings of the study may seem obvious to those with hazy memories of their college exploits. However, the researchers went one step further by quantifying exactly how cost could affect problem drinking among college students.

They found that a 10-cent increase in cost per gram of alcohol -- an increase of $1.40 in the price of a drink -- was associated with a 30 percent reduction in the risk of a student leaving a drinking establishment with a blood level greater 0.08, which is the legal limit for driving in many states.

Alcohol use among college students is associated with an estimated 1,400 deaths each year, along with hundreds of thousands of injuries, assaults, and incidents of unprotected sex, the authors noted. And while many past studies have found relationships between alcohol prices and consumption, none before had looked at the effects of prices on individual behavior.

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