Cultural values can be a strong predictor of alcohol consumption

November 20, 2017, Frontiers
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Countries with populations that value autonomy and harmony tend to have higher average levels of alcohol consumption than countries with more traditional values, such as hierarchy and being part of a collective. This new research finding, published today in open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology, may have important implications for international public health organizations aiming to tackle problems associated with alcohol consumption.

Understanding why people drink alcohol excessively is of enormous importance to health authorities around the globe. According to the World Health organization, harmful alcohol caused more than 3.3 million deaths in 2012, 6% of all deaths in that year. It is strongly associated with , liver cirrhosis and chronic pancreatitis, and has a huge social and economic burden.

Many previous studies focused on why, at an individual level, people drink excessively. For the first time, researchers in Portugal and the UK attempted to pinpoint broader societal and cultural predictors of alcohol consumption.

Using alcohol consumption and cultural value orientation data for 74 countries, the researchers modeled whether a country's average level of alcohol consumption could be associated with various societal values such as autonomy, hierarchy, harmony and collectivism.

Although the results were slightly different between men and women, the research found that values of autonomy and harmony are positively associated with alcohol consumption while hierarchy and embeddedness are negatively associated.

One of the study's authors, Dr Richard Inman, at the University of Lusíada in Porto, hopes that the findings may help to inform policy. "Our results suggest that bodies like World Health Organization should prioritize tackling alcohol consumption in countries that are more autonomous and less traditional, and future research should be directed at further understanding the relationship between cultural values and ," he says.

Co-author, Bath University's Dr Paul Hanel says that there is also an obvious next step: "Researchers could create similar profiles and models to help understand the cultural underpinnings for other risky behaviors such as smoking and drug taking, or health issues such as obesity."

Smoking, inactivity and diet, along with excessive , are the noncommunicable diseases that cause 70% of deaths worldwide.

Explore further: Even one drink a day can increase risk of cancer, study finds

More information: Frontiers in Psychology (2017). DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01963

Related Stories

Even one drink a day can increase risk of cancer, study finds

November 13, 2017
Do you enjoy the occasional cocktail? Beware, because even moderate consumption of alcohol can increase your risk of cancer, according to a new report.

How much alcohol is really OK?

October 2, 2017
(HealthDay)—All the good news/bad news studies about alcohol can leave you confused. But research suggests that you still need to keep moderation in mind when you raise a glass.

Cold weather and fewer sun hours are associated with increased rates of alcoholic cirrhosis

April 22, 2017
New data presented today at The International Liver Congress 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, suggests that colder and less sunny regions of the world have higher rates of alcoholic cirrhosis, a disease caused by excessive ...

Alcohol consumption putting vast majority of Europeans at risk of digestive cancers

July 4, 2017
Citizens across the EU are consuming an average of 2 alcoholic drinks per day, placing drinkers at a 21% increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, in addition to other digestive cancers, a report finds.

Binge drinking associated with higher blood glucose levels in women, but not men

June 7, 2017
Regular high alcohol consumption and binge drinking from age 16 is associated with higher glucose concentrations in women's blood - an important risk factor for type 2 diabetes - later in life, according to a study published ...

Alcohol consumption contributes to cancer, even in moderate drinkers

June 27, 2016
Drinking alcohol increases the risk of several types of cancer, and was responsible for 236 cancer deaths under 80 years of age in New Zealand in 2012, according to a new study at the University of Otago.

Recommended for you

Depressed patients see quality of life improve with nerve stimulation

August 21, 2018
People with depression who are treated with nerve stimulation experience significant improvements in quality of life, even when their depression symptoms don't completely subside, according to results of a national study ...

Study identifies 'compulsivity circuit' in heavy alcohol drinkers

August 21, 2018
Heavy alcohol drinkers attempt to acquire alcohol despite the threat of a negative consequence more so than light drinkers, a study in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging has found, and this behavior ...

A depressed spouse may increase one's own cognitive decline, study finds

August 21, 2018
Researchers at Yale School of Public Health and their scientific partners have found that having a depressed spouse can increase one's own depressive symptoms as well as cognitive decline over time in late life. 

Beauty is simpler, and less special, than we realize

August 20, 2018
Beauty, long studied by philosophers, and more recently by scientists, is simpler than we might think, New York University psychology researchers have concluded in a new analysis. Their work, which appears in the journal ...

Bilingual children who speak native language at home have higher intelligence

August 20, 2018
Children who regularly use their native language at home while growing up in a different country have higher IQs, a new study has shown.

People are more honest when using a foreign tongue, research finds

August 17, 2018
New UChicago-led research suggests that someone who speaks in a foreign language is probably more credible than the average native speaker.

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.