A new study suggests that drunk people feel more intoxicated, or not, depending on who surrounds them and how drunk are they. The English research shows that drunk people next to other intoxicated individuals underestimated their level of drunkenness. And those that were in the company of sober people felt drunker that they actually were.
The study measured the blood-alcohol levels of more than 1,800 individuals and surveyed more than 400 of the participants to discover drunk people feel drunker when surrounded by sober individuals. The study was made in Cardiff, Wales, where there is a lot of nightlife. They chose four locations and started selecting participants asking them if they could measure their blood-alcohol levels with a breath test. The data was collected between 08:00 p.m. and 03:00 a.m. and researchers approached every seventh person that passed by for a year.
In addition to the blood-alcohol levels, the researchers also surveyed a group of individuals from the original 1,800 and asked them to rate how drunk they were on a scale from 1 (totally sober) to 10 (completely drunk). They also asked them how likely they thought it was that drinking would damage their health in the next 15 years.
Scientists had to use mathematical models to analyze all data. They calculated how the average level of intoxication was compared to how drunk people thought they were. They also assess how people might react if more drunk people were around or if more sober people were in the surroundings.
Authors wrote that it appears that drinkers are more self-aware of their level of drunkenness when they are surrounded by sober people. The results showed that introducing sober individuals to an environment full of intoxicated people could make those who are drunk feel how intoxicated they are and get them moderate their drinking.
Lead author of the study, Simon Moore, said researchers have historically worked under the assumption that those who drink the most alcohol incorrectly ‘imagine’ everyone else as drunk as they are. But the finding in the study proves that it does not matter how much someone has drunk, what matter is how drunk are the other people surrounding that individual, which directly influences how drunk a person will feel and how high are the risk of drinking that much.
This means that people evaluate their own level of drunkenness by comparing to others. When they are around drunk people, they become more accepting of being drunk. And when they are in the company of sober individuals, they feel judged and try to control their drinking pace.
The new findings might be considered to solve public health issues regarding drinking and reduce excessive alcohol consumption. Moore suggested that instead of controlling how much people can drink, it will be easier to introduce sober people in a drinking environment to make people realize they have been drinking too much.