Drinking buddies deny copying alcoholic drink orders

March 4, 2014

People who copy their friend's drinking behaviour will deny that their decision has been influenced, researchers at the University of Liverpool have shown.

A new study, conducted in the University of Liverpool's bar laboratory, a lab designed to imitate a bar, brought together pairs of friends. One of the friends was made aware of the experimental aims and was told to drink alcoholic drinks throughout the session or to stick to soft drinks.

While most people were strongly influenced by peers – they mimicked their friend and drank more heavily when their friend did – the majority of participants were unaware of this influence on their behaviour and were adamant that their friend's choice did not have anything to do with their decision to drink.

Unlike in previous studies which have focussed on who did not know each other, the Liverpool researchers decided to find out how much people of all ages, who were already friends would copy each other's choice of drinks.

Forty-six pairs of people volunteered to attend sessions at the University lab, which is specially designed for experiments of this nature. While people thought that they were taking part in a study of 'social problem solving', once they arrived one of the pair was told about the real project and given instructions on how to behave.

As part of the cover story for the fake study, the pairs sat down to complete a game, with the person in the know asked for their drink order first.

Eighty percent of people whose partner was told to choose an also chose one, compared to only 30% of partners who chose a . However, only 19% said that their partner's choice may have had an effect on their choice of drink.

The academics believe that by showing alcohol drinking as an acceptable behaviour, the partners were able to influence their friends' drinking choice without them being aware of it.

Rebecca Dallas and Dr Eric Robinson from the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society led the study. Dr Robinson said: "Social pressure can have an enormous effect on people's drinking habits.

"As we've shown in this study, can influence our behaviour without us even realising it's happening and this has implications for people who are looking to cut down their drinking.

"What we didn't find out was whether people genuinely didn't know they were copying their friend, or if they were just embarrassed when we asked them afterwards!"

Explore further: In teen drinking it's not who you know, it's who knows who you know

More information: The study was published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Related Stories

Young adults drink more in the company of a heavy drinker

March 21, 2012

Young adults drink more alcohol if they are in the company of peers who drink heavily. NWO researcher Helle Larsen has scientifically confirmed this link for the first time by observing young adults in a research lab converted ...

Best friends influence when teenagers have first drink

January 28, 2013

Chances are the only thing you remember about your first swig of alcohol is how bad the stuff tasted. What you didn't know is the person who gave you that first drink and when you had it says a lot about your predisposition ...

Society to blame for binge drinking

February 18, 2013

Peer pressure has long been blamed for binge drinking among teenagers, yet new research from Flinders University reveals it may not be the root of the problem.

Recommended for you

Young adults found displaying symptoms of net addiction

October 17, 2014

In 2012, Allen Frances, MD, professor emeritus and former chair of the department of psychiatry at Duke University, cautioned that "Internet Addiction" could be the next new fad diagnosis, complete with "an exuberant trumpeting ...

Can 'love hormone' oxytocin protect against addiction?

March 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University of Adelaide say addictive behaviour such as drug and alcohol abuse could be associated with poor development of the so-called "love hormone" system in our bodies during early ...

Nicotine vaccine prevents nicotine from reaching the brain

May 2, 2012

If smoking a cigarette no longer delivers pleasure, will smokers quit? It's the idea behind a nicotine vaccine being created by MIT and Harvard researchers, in which an injection of synthetic nanoparticles prompts the immune ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.