Drinking is Safer in Groups

Research led by psychologists from the University of Kent and the University of East Anglia (England) indicates that individuals who drink moderate amounts of alcohol in social situations are more likely to view risk-taking behaviors with greater caution when considering them as part of a group.

This is the first evidence found outside of laboratory conditions that being in a social group can reduce some effects of drinking alcohol.     

Groups of people near the university campuses were approached and recruited for the study. Over one hundred people participated who were 18-30 years of age, in social groups of four to six people who were just under the drink-driving limit for alcohol consumption or groups who had not consumed any alcohol.

Researchers found people were much more willing to accept a higher level of risk when they were drinking and making decisions alone than making decisions in a group of others. An example was an individual willing to risk driving when alone but decided it is better not to drive when the same question was asked while belonging to a group.

University of Kent scientist Dr. Tim Hopthrow claims,

“Our findings showed that, even in natural settings, social interaction in groups can reduce the tendency of individual drinkers to accept risks. Alcohol consumers accepted more risk when deciding alone but the least risk when deciding as a group. We think that this is because drinkers in groups monitor one another closely, becoming more cautious when directly asked whether to take a risk.”

The findings could lead to new interventions designed to promote safer recreational drinking practices. Group drinking should not be seen as a problem, but encouraged, among those who can drink responsibly, as a solution to help overcompensate for risks that individuals make when drinking alone.

There may be safety in numbers when it comes to drinking, but drinking alcohol still has many health risks. Speak to a health professional if you need further information about alcohol abuse or its effects on health.



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