Last updated January 11, 2018 at 10:41 am
Wine, beer and spirits each elicit different emotional responses, researchers have found, with spirits most frequently associated with aggression and other negative feelings.
Researchers pulled data from the Global Drug Survey (GDS), the world’s largest online survey of drug and alcohol use among adults. The results come from 30,000 18- to 34-year-old adults from 21 countries.
The emotions noted in the survey included energised, relaxed, sexy, confident and tired, aggressive, ill, restless, and tearful, which reflected a broader spectrum of positive or negative feelings.
Spirits were more likely draw out negative feelings than other types of alcohol, with 30 per cent associating them with aggression compared to 2.4 per cent of red wine drinkers.
But 59 per cent felt that spirits were also associated with energy and confidence, and 42.5 per cent associated spirits with feeling sexy.
Red wine was found to be most likely to evoke the feeling of relaxation (53 per cent), which was followed by beer (50 per cent). The survey showed that spirits were least likely to be associated with feeling relaxed (20 per cent).
Responses were also separated into age groups, gender and level of alcohol dependency.
Women were more likely than men to associate emotions, except for aggression, with all types of alcohol. Conversely, men in general and those who classed themselves as heavy drinkers were more likely to associate aggression with all types of alcohol.
It’s worth noting that association in observational studies does not mean there’s a direct cause and effect. A lot of perceptions of alcohol can be influenced by where and when alcohol is drunk, advertising and the media, and the alcohol content of different drinks. Spirits is a broad category of rum, gin, vodka, whisky and more – each with its own characteristics. It’s likely that different demographics associate different emotions with different spirits. The survey also makes the assumption that alcohol consumption behaviours are based on rational choice, which may not always be the case.
Nevertheless, the authors suggest that, “Understanding the relationship between different types of alcohol and the emotions and associated behaviours they may elicit may help improve public health messages and health promotion and may help to prevent escalation to dependent drinking.”
Alcohol is often a factor in violence in many countries. Understanding the association with aggression could help with public health responses and interventions, especially in heavy drinkers. It’s also important to understand the emotional relationship that young people have with alcohol.
To leave you in high spirits, remember to drink responsibly.
This research was published in BMJ Open.
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