Hosts of Parties Drink More Than Their Guests (And Behave More Badly too)

College students who host off-campus parties drink significantly more than their guests and are more likely to engage in behaviors like vandalism, arguments, riots, and drunk driving, according to a new study from Ohio State University.

Dr. Cynthia Buettner and her colleagues surveyed more than 3,500 students online about their alcohol use between 2005 and 2007. About 12% told the team that they had hosted parties. This group tend to be male, living off-campus, a member of a fraternity or sorority, and in their second year or higher of college. The majority had more money to spend than the other students. About 80% of the parties had been held off-campus, and the average number of guests ranged from 25 to 60. The researchers found that the off-campus party hosts drank more and behaved more wildly than on-campus hosts.

The off-campus hosts drank an average of nine drinks, compared to their guests who consumed an average 7.5. The range of drinks consumed at the parties was 0 to 30. The off-campus hosts were more likely to behave in ways associated with heavy drinking, such as public urination, flashing or mooning, vandalism to property at the party or nearby, physical fights, driving while drunk or riding in a car with a driver who had been drinking.

"It is logical to think that off-campus party hosts would be more likely to drink a lot," said Professor Buettner. "They know they are not going to drive, they are home, and they probably started drinking before everyone arrived. Our theory is that on-campus party hosts may be worried about potential sanctions. … I’d be willing to bet, although we will not know until we do the research, that there is a group of students who tend to be the hosts over and over again. This gives you a group of students for whom a particular type of intervention would be helpful."

This study appears in the journal Addictive Behaviors and was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.