Sexually selected sex differences in competitiveness explain sex differences in changes in drinking game participation

Evol Psychol. 2015 May 14;13(2):397-410.


Drinking games are a risk factor for behavioral and health problems among university students. Previous cross-sectional research by Hone, Carter, and McCullough (2013) replicated well-established sex differences in drinking game behaviors (i.e., that men are more active drinking game participants than are women) and university drinking problems more generally. Hone et al. (2013) also found that these male-specific behavioral patterns are attributable in part to the fact that men's generally unrestricted sexual strategies, plus their social competitiveness, motivate them to participate in drinking games to display their fortitude and compete with same-sex rivals. Here, the authors conducted a study to evaluate with greater causal rigor whether sex differences in sexual restrictedness and social competitiveness-and sex differences in motivations for participating in drinking games in particular-are partially responsible for the sex differences in university students' drinking game behaviors and drinking problems. Sex differences in changes in frequency of drinking game participation were partially mediated by competitive motivations for participating in drinking games and by the effects of social competitiveness on competitive drinking game motivation. These findings lend additional support to the proposition that participation in drinking games is motivated in part by their suitability as a venue for sexual competition in university students' day-to-day lives.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavioral Symptoms / etiology
  • Binge Drinking* / complications
  • Binge Drinking* / psychology
  • Competitive Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Play and Playthings / psychology*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Social Perception
  • Students / psychology*
  • Universities