Science and stuff

What Kind of Drunk Are You?

Surprise! Booze can turn you into a jerk.

By John Chandler December 20, 2011

Interesting report from the folks over at Slow Cocktails about the different kinds of drunks. In my experience, drunken behavior can be very unpredictable (e.g. remorseful, horny, loud, destructive, mean, cuddly, cute), but the researchers conducting the study for the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology broke their findings down into two camps: those who become increasingly aggressive and those who don’t become any more aggressive than usual. With New Year’s Eve coming up, knowing whom to avoid at the party could come in handy.

Nearly 500 young drinkers (median age 23) were selected for the experiment. Some were given orange juice and (most likely) vodka, and others were given much less potent (placebo) drinks. The subjects were then told an elaborate lie about competing against opponents in a speed-reaction test, with the winner administering an electrical shock to the loser. The results? People who identify themselves as "living in the here and now" became more aggressive (i.e., gave longer shocks and apparently took some measure of delight in it) than those with a well-developed sense of "actions leading to future consequences."

"Alcohol has a myopic effect—it narrows your attention to what is important to you right now," said Brad Bushman the lead author of the study. "That may be dangerous to someone who already has that tendency to ignore the future consequences of their actions and who is placed in a hostile situation."

Not sure how I feel about this. I think there are other significant factors that can lead to increased aggression, most notably one’s mood at the beginning of a binge. So let’s get scientific, drinking buddies: What do you think of the study, and which kind of drunk are you? Me first: I’m a sleepy drunk. I’ve got friends who can wail all night when they’ve got a buzz on, but I usually start thinking about where I’m going to crash well before I fall on my stupid face. Put me down for having a pretty good idea of actions leading to future consequences. Thank experience, old age, whatever. Discuss.

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