Binge drinking is a real problem on many college campuses, and new research could reveal why: students who chug-a-lug enjoy a higher social status among their peers.

Because of that, the binge-drinkers — those who down at least four drinks in one sitting — reported being happier overall.

And it could be a never-ending cycle, because the higher a student’s social status, the more likely they are to grab a beer funnel.

“I would guess it has to do with feeling like you belong and whether or not you’re doing what a ‘real’ college student does,” said study researcher and sociologist Carolyn Hsu. “It seems to be more about certain groups getting to define what that looks like.”

The responses of the 1,600 students surveyed in the study back up her assumptions — many wrote things like, “I don’t really want to drink, but this is what everyone else does,” and “I don’t want to get drunk, but I feel like I don’t belong here if I don’t.”

But the good news is that members of some large campus groups, like religious organizations, didn’t binge drink and it had no impact on their social standing — meaning that sizable communities may be able to dictate rules outside the norm.

[LiveScience]