Monday, October 6, 2014

Men are More Likely to “Catch” a Smile from People in Their Social Group After Drinking Alcohol

     I ran across an interesting article in the Washington Post and the Spirits Business the other day about how men are more likely to catch a smile while consuming alcohol.   The study
published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, showed in men, alcohol increases sensitivity to “rewarding” social behaviors such as smiling.
     “This experimental alcohol study, which included a social context, finds the clearest evidence yet of greater alcohol reinforcement for men than women,” said Catharine Fairbairn, psychological scientist and lead researcher of the University of Pittsburgh.
     “Many men report that the majority of their social support and social bonding time occurs within the context of alcohol consumption."
“We wanted to explore the possibility that social alcohol consumption was more rewarding to men than to women – the idea that alcohol might actually ‘lubricate’ social interaction to a greater extent among men.”
     "When there was alcohol around, people "caught" smiles more readily -- but only in all-male groups. In mixed groups and all-female groups, alcohol didn't make smiles any more viral than non-alcoholic and placebo drinks. But sober all-female groups had more contagious smiles than their male counterparts. Men had to raise their blood alcohol level to be as social and friendly as women were while sober."
     According to lead author and University of Pittsburgh PhD candidate Catharine Fairbairn,  the danger here is that most people think of "social drinking" as fairly harmless.   "Excessive drinking in social settings is less likely to raise red flags than habitual drinking alone".   "But because men really do seem to enjoy social situations more as they consume more alcohol, these group settings might be where they develop Dangerous drinking habits."