Aims: To assess associations between drinking behaviour, gender and age with reported experiences related to drinking.
Design: Cross-sectional survey.
Setting and participants: Interviews were performed in 1992 with a representative sample of the Finnish population between 15 and 69 years of age (N = 3446).
Measurements: Annual intake of alcohol, frequency of drunkenness, and 14 negative and eight positive reported experiences related to drinking.
Findings: Logistic regression models showed that overall intake and frequency of drunkenness were independently associated with almost all reported positive and negative consequences of drinking. Women more commonly reported that drinking had helped them to sort out interpersonal problems at home or in the work-place, to feel more optimistic about life, and to express their feelings. Men more commonly reported that drinking had helped them to be funnier and wittier and to get closer to the opposite sex. Drunken driving was markedly male behaviour, but women more commonly reported other types of reckless behaviour and adverse consequences of drinking. However, men more commonly said they were criticized by family for their drinking. With the exception of health problems, both positive and negative consequences of alcohol were more common among younger drinkers.
Conclusions: Once overall intake and frequency of drunkenness were controlled for, significant differences between men's and women's perceptions of the costs and benefits of alcohol consumption emerged. Men tended to perceive more hedonic benefits while women perceived more functional benefits. Women reported behaving more recklessly in drinking situations. In light of the results, women were not under selective social control.