Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Safety in numbers: Moderate drinking in a group reduces attraction to risk

Date:
May 22, 2014
Source:
University of Kent
Summary:
Individuals who have consumed moderate amounts of alcohol in social situations are likely to view risky situations with greater caution when considering them as part of a group, new research shows. The research produced the first evidence found outside of laboratory conditions that being in a group can reduce some effects of alcohol consumption. The findings could lead to the design of new interventions designed to promote safer recreational drinking.

New research led by the University of Kent shows that individuals who have consumed moderate amounts of alcohol in social situations are likely to view risky situations with greater caution when considering them as part of a group.

The research, by psychologists from the University of Kent and the University of East Anglia, produced the first evidence found outside of laboratory conditions that being in a group can reduce some effects of alcohol consumption. The findings could lead to the design of new interventions designed to promote safer recreational drinking.

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 was acceptable before recommending someone should take various actions. They accepted a higher level of risk when they were drinking and deciding alone, rather than when they were drinking and deciding in a group of others.

In the study, 101 participants aged 18-30 who were in groups were approached to take part. The researchers compared groups of people who were just under the drink-driving limit with groups that had not consumed any alcohol.

The participants first gave their private judgements about how much risk they would accept before recommending a potentially risky action -- for example, whether it would be acceptable to drive to collect a friend from an airport after drinking. They then re-joined the group and discussed a second problem and the group had to agree how much risk would be acceptable.

Dr Tim Hopthrow, of Kent's Centre for the Study of Group Processes, said: 'When intoxicated, it is known that people are more likely to engage in risky behaviour, 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 judgements together with other drinkers in a group. We wanted to establish whether this would hold true in real drinking situations outside the laboratory, such as a bar or concert, where there are many other influences at work.

'Our findings showed that, even in these 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 research, titled Drinking in social groups: does 'groupdrink' provide safety in numbers when deciding about risk?, is published in the journal Addiction. The research team comprised: Dr Tim Hopthrow, Dr Georgina Randsley de Moura, Professor Dominic Abrams and Dr Hannah Swift of the Centre for the Study of Group Processes, School of Psychology at the University of Kent, and Dr Rose Meleady, of the School of Psychology at the University of East Anglia.

Dr Meleady said: 'We know that individuals are more likely to engage in risky behaviour when they are intoxicated, whether it be having unprotected sex, or engaging in violent or other criminal activity. This research demonstrates that drinking as part of a social group may mitigate the effects of alcohol consumption on risk-taking.

'Rather than seeing groups as part of the problem, we need to see them as part of the solution. Groups over-compensate for alcohol consumption in the face of risk. When drinking moderately, there may be safety in numbers.'


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Kent. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tim Hopthrow, Georgina Randsley de Moura, Rose Meleady, Dominic Abrams, Hannah J. Swift. Drinking in social groups. Does ‘groupdrink’ provide safety in numbers when deciding about risk? Addiction, 2014; 109 (6): 913 DOI: 10.1111/add.12496

Cite This Page:

University of Kent. "Safety in numbers: Moderate drinking in a group reduces attraction to risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140522105132.htm>.
University of Kent. (2014, May 22). Safety in numbers: Moderate drinking in a group reduces attraction to risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140522105132.htm
University of Kent. "Safety in numbers: Moderate drinking in a group reduces attraction to risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140522105132.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins