If you enjoy drinking alcohol, you’ve probably been drunk or tipsy at least once in your life, (College, anyone?) As booze settles in, you might start noticing a few changes in the way you act and feel. You’re suddenly not as shy and poised as you usually are. You’re not subconscious about texting your ex, and you might feel the urge to start dancing like no one’s watching. Believe it or not, a new study debunks the myth that alcohol alters your personality and blames it all on none other than… yourself!
CAN’T BLAME IT ON THE A-A-A-ALCOHOL
When people drink, they often blame their outrageous or daring behavior on booze. Sorry to say this, kids, but it’s all on you! People might feel more open, extroverted, and fun; but according to research, there is no personality change involved in the process.
FROM THE INSIDE OUT
Alcohol does exaggerate our personality, though. For instance, if we tend to be happy, a drink or two might make us laugh harder. We might feel like our whole world is changing inside us, but only onlookers might notice a louder version of your usual personality.
A study from the University of Missouri by psychological scientist Rachel Winograd researched to find out if alcohol produced any changes in their 156 subjects. Participants had to fill out a survey, describing what they thought their “typical” sober and drunk personalities were like, and the amounts of alcohol they’re used to drinking. Needless to say, she found out some pretty interesting things!
FROM SURVEY TO TIPSY
After completing the survey, the participants were divided into same-sex groups: some drank soda, while others drank vodka and sprite. The objective was getting to a .09 blood alcohol content or at least to a slightly tipsy mood. A pretty fun experiment for these soon-to-be drunkies!
Fifteen minutes after drinking, participants had to perform a few personality tests that involved playing games and working on puzzles. Subjects themselves had to rate their personalities two different times, and sessions were recorded so that observers could study the results carefully.
BEER ME UP, SCOTTIE
Participants had to rate their levels of conscientiousness, openness to experience, agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism, on a scale from 1-5. While drinkers did find a change in those personality traits when drunk, most observers did not see a difference.
This test showed that, depending on who’s watching, the perception of your personality can change significantly. Translation: you might feel you’re a complete different person when you’re drunk, but people around you won’t notice that at all.
AN ACCENT ON EXTROVERSION
The one and only observable change definitely has to do with the level of extroversion in the groups. Participants who started getting tipsy looked happier and more active during the psychological tests, while sober subjects remained the same. Shocking, I know!
Winograd is curious about how the test might work across different cultures, so she might give it a try in other countries. Also, she wants to test if changing the location of the study alters personality: people drinking in bars vs. at home.
THE LIFE OF THE PARTY
A secondary objective behind this test is to see if interventions like these can help reduce any negative impacts on people who drink. For the time being, it seems that being the life of the party has nothing to do with how many drinks you’ve had—cheers to that!