The drunkenness of our peers affects how drunk we think we are - study


Who knew drunk friends could actually make you feel more sober? That's what a new study from the Cardiff University has found.

When drinking in social situations, people tend to compare their state to others of the same gender around them.

This affects their perception how drunk they are, how excessive their drinking is, and the long-term implications on their health.

When surrounded by others more drunk, people are more likely to underestimate their own level of intoxication and the associated risks.

In contrast, when a drunk person is surrounded by sober people, the drinker feels more at risk and intoxicated.

Cardiff University professor Simon Moore said the results have very important implications for how we might work to reduce excessive alcohol consumption.

"We could either work to reduce the number of very drunk people in a drinking environment, or we could increase the number of people who are sober.

"Our theory predicts the latter approach would have greatest impact," Professor Moore said.

Researchers tested the breath alcohol concentration of 1,862 people between 8pm and 3am on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The researchers acknowledged that it is unclear whether drinkers compare their drunkenness to the actual levels of intoxication of their peers, or their incorrect perceptions of how drunk they are.

Previous social norms research has shown that people generally have inaccurate impressions of how much others drink, potentially motivated by a desire to see themselves as lower drinkers.