They added: ‘Binge drinking could communicate information about resources, underlying mate quality, mating competition, and mating strategies.
‘Because alcohol is a luxury good, alcohol consumption may reflect wealth.’
The paper explored how the ‘operational sex ratio’ between men and women (which indicates how many partners of each gender are single and looking to mingle).
It suggested that men were more likely to binge drink when there were relatively low numbers of available women – whilst ladies showed the opposite effect and drank less.
Pubs and clubs are sites of male competition for female attention in which ‘young men gathered and drank alcohol primarily to compete for female attention and show off their masculinity to both women and other men’, the authours added.
‘The ability to withstand these detrimental effects could signal “vigour” and advertise mate quality,’ they continued.
‘This idea is related to [a theory called the] handicap principle, where females of many species prefer males that display exaggerated traits that are costly to maintain and develop; hence, these traits serve as “honest” signals.
‘Indeed, occasional drinkers and frequent drinkers were rated as significantly more attractive than nondrinkers, especially in short-term mating contexts.
‘Additionally, a recent review of the evolution of human sex-specific cognitive abilities by Geary (2019) identifies alcohol as a stressor/intoxicant that compromises the building, maintenance, and expression of sexually selected traits.
‘Thus the ability to function despite consuming alcohol (i.e., to “hold your liquor”), especially among men, might signal that the binge drinker is of sufficient quality to cope with the harmful consequences of alcohol.’