ASU Drinking FEAT

Arizona State Students Get Paid to Get Drunk for Research Purposes

Jul 22, 2011

ASU kids are drinking in class, and unlike when I was in college, it’s actually encouraged.

ASU Drinking Arizona State Students Get Paid to Get Drunk for Research Purposes

Arizona State University has quite the reputation and it’s not for math, science, philosophy, classics, or any other form of education that you would normally find in a classroom. The students attending school in Tempe like to party, and they are damn good at it. Year-in and year-out the Sun Devils rank high amongst the nations elite party schools. Academically they aren’t exactly as well respected.

So today when my dad texted me this morning about an Arizona Republic report that the school has a bar in a nondescript third floor classroom of the Psychology department, my first reaction was “of course they do.” If I had to guess one school that would try to legitimize getting drunk as a class requirement, ASU would be near the top of my list.

Now of course my initial reaction was unfairly judgmental of ASU’s administration, students, faculty and staff, but I’m a University of Arizona fan so I can’t help myself.

After I got past my prejudice I found Dr. William Corbin’s alcohol research to be both interesting and enlightening. Surprisingly enough, his drunken psychology lab is entirely legitimate. The fact that Dr. Corbin was teaching at Yale for 7 years before moving to Arizona State immediately gave his research a greater sense of validity. He specializes in the causes and consequences of alcohol use and abuse.

A couple nights a week a handful of students head to Dr. Corbin’s lab to socialize and get drunk. The room has been designed to recreate the bar atmosphere from the dim lighting, music and televisions. Over the course of a half hour each student is given three drinks, all of them the same combination of 7UP, lime juice, cranberry juice and vodka. The goal is to reach the the legal limit of .08.

After the subjects reach the target inebriation level researchers perform memory tests and ask hypothetical questions in order to determine how the brain operates under the influence. Some of the results are rather predictable, such as their finding that we are more likely to spend money recklessly when drunk.

But the results of some studies were actually rather interesting:

In another study, Corbin used computer exercises and found participants are more motivated to avoid risky behavior by the likelihood of negative consequences than by the severity of the consequences. According to Corbin, these results suggest that increasing the frequency of DUI checkpoints may discourage drinking and driving more than toughening DUI penalties.

Some of the other more interesting focuses of Dr. Corbin and his team are the genetic factors that go into someone’s alcohol use and the effects of stress and poverty on drinking habits.

And the best part is the students don’t have to worry about their tab at the end of the night, it’s being taken care of by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. In fact they are not only fitting the bill but they’re also getting paid to drink. Each student who participates in the study earns $60 a night and are given cab rides back home.

The only negative appears to be the fact Dr. Corbin makes his subjects sober up before heading out, giving them soda, chips and salsa while they play video games and watch TV. So to recap, this study includes: free food, free booze, video games, TV, hypothetical questions, gambling and $60. It seems like a typical college Thursday pregame, minus the free money and the fact that it concludes in sobriety.

Not bad ASU, I have a newfound respect for a small part of your Psychology department; but aside from that, Ike Davis and Phil Mickleson, I still hate you guys.

[Arizona Republic]

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