Volume 93, Issue 95

Wednesday, March 29, 2000


Computers stolen from SSC offices

Research gets $18.5M boost

Western student still missing

Alcohol consumptions leads to - less sex?

Multiple arrests made at T.O. rave

Biotechnological food explained in magazine

Settlers have hard time finding jobs


Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus

Alcohol consumptions leads to - less sex?

By Katy de Vries
Gazette Staff

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, alcohol consumption might lead to more cautious decisions regarding sex, according to a recent study led by Queen's University.

The study, to be published in next month's edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found, depending on cues in their environment, the likelihood of having unprotected sex varied for individuals who consumed alcohol, said Tara MacDonald, a Queen's psychology professor and the study's lead researcher.

"Intoxicated people are highly influenced by positive and negative cues within their environment and whichever type are more salient will have a stronger effect on the individual," she said.

During the study, people at a bar were given different hand stamps with either a happy face, the words "safe sex" or "AIDS kills." After a period of time, all participants were shown a video and given a questionnaire to answer. The video depicted a couple who planned on engaging in sexual intercourse with no condoms available.

She explained more subjects who were drunk and had "safe sex" or "AIDS kills" stamped on their hands reported they were less likely to engage in unsafe behaviour than the sober subjects. Those with happy faces stamped on their hands proved to have a stronger inclination towards unprotected sex.

Bob Chant, public affairs director for Labatt Breweries, said brewing companies in Canada were active in supporting the responsible consumption of their products. "We take the findings from studies like this and try to deliver them in the best possible way through our community programs, television commercials or our campus visits – we want to present this material in the most effective way."

Despite the study's findings, MacDonald said there were limitations to the research. The major drawback was that they could not further perform the study to determine if actual sexual behaviour would follow the intent, she said.

Western sociology professor Paul Whitehead, who has directed studies on alcohol consumption and unsafe sex in the military, questioned the study's validity.

He said it may not be necessary to compare sober individuals with those stamped with happy faces, but instead focus on comparing them to those stamped with "safe sex" or "AIDS kills."

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