When Drinking: Safety in Numbers

drinkingResearchers have discovered that social drinking as part of a group is actually less risky than when an individual drinks alone.[1] Therefore, when drinking, safety in numbers.1

In the study, psychologists from the University of Kent and the University of East Anglia found surprising evidence that being in a group can actually reduce some of the effects of alcohol consumption.1 These findings could lead to new interventions that are designed to promote safer recreational drinking.1

Researchers asked University of Kent students who were drinking in groups in bars and at a music festival at its Canterbury campus to decide what levels of risk they thought were acceptable before recommending that someone should take various actions.1 Students accepted a higher level of risk when they were drinking and deciding alone, rather than when they were drinking and deciding in groups.1

For the study, researchers assessed 101 participants, aged 18 to 30, who were in groups.1 The researchers compared groups of people who were just under the drunk-driving limit with groups that had not consumed any alcohol.1 The participants first gave their private opinions about how much risk they would accept, and then they re-joined the group and re-discussed it.1

Dr. Tim Hopthrow of Kent’s Center for the Study of Group Processes said, “When intoxicated, it is known that people are more likely to engage in risky behavior, including the use of illicit drugs, engaging in violent and other criminal activity, and driving at dangerous speeds. Our findings confirmed that individual risk decisions are increased by higher alcohol consumption. Our previous research, which had been conducted in laboratory conditions, showed that effects of alcohol consumption that affect people drinking alone—such as becoming riskier—are reduced or eliminated when people make judgments together with other drinkers in a group.”1

Therefore, researchers wanted to establish whether this behavior would hold true in real drinking situations outside the laboratory.1 They discovered that, even in these natural settings, social interaction in groups can reduce the tendency of individual drinkers to accept risk.1

[1] Nauert, R. (2014). Study Finds Safety in Numbers When Drinking. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/05/23/study-finds-safety-in-numbers-when-drinking/70260.html

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