Drunk or Tipsy, Does It Make a Difference?

group of young people at a bar drinking and chatting

Drunk or Tipsy, Does It Make a Difference?


Remember going to the local bar on college night and seeing guys and girls get drunk? There was always the girls that would giggle and deny that they were wasted, claiming they were just a “little buzzed.” On the other hand, college men would proclaim their extreme drunkenness with pride. The use of terms to describe the level of drunkenness might not seem important, but it can carry future consequences. More than Words In 2007, scientists presented scenarios depicting men and women drinking to 145 undergraduate students. They were asked to describe the people’s level of drunkenness. The students repeatedly underestimated the level of drunkenness of the women in the scenarios labeling them “buzzed” or “tipsy.” However, the men in the scenarios were labeled “wasted” or “hammered” denoting their level of drunkenness. According to Ash Levitt, co-author of the study to be published in December, downplaying the level of drunkenness of women increases their risk of developing alcoholism or experiencing consequences like a DUI. This could also keep a woman from seeking alcohol addiction treatment for her drinking problem. For men, playing up their level of drunkenness glorifies their behavior or normalizes it.

Breaking Down the Stereotypes

There’s a lot of work to do in breaking down these stereotypes. Focusing on these loaded words and raising awareness among men and women about this issue can prevent future alcohol-related consequences in these people’s lives. Have you ever used these terms to describe your drunkenness? Do you think these terms were detrimental to you? Share your thoughts on Stepping Stone Center’s Facebook page.