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Safety in numbers: Moderate drinking in a group reduces attraction to risk
Date:5/22/2014

New research led by the University of Kent shows that individuals who have consumed moderate amounts of alcohol in social situations are likely to view risky situations with greater caution when considering them as part of a group.

The research, by psychologists from the University of Kent and the University of East Anglia, produced the first evidence found outside of laboratory conditions that being in a group can reduce some effects of alcohol consumption. The findings could lead to the design of new interventions designed to promote safer recreational drinking.

Researchers asked University of Kent students who were drinking in groups in bars and at a music festival at its Canterbury campus to decide what levels of risk they thought was acceptable before recommending someone should take various actions. They accepted a higher level of risk when they were drinking and deciding alone, rather than when they were drinking and deciding in a group of others.

In the study, 101 participants aged 18-30 who were in groups were approached to take part. The researchers compared groups of people who were just under the drink-driving limit with groups that had not consumed any alcohol.

The participants first gave their private judgements about how much risk they would accept before recommending a potentially risky action - for example, whether it would be acceptable to drive to collect a friend from an airport after drinking. They then re-joined the group and discussed a second problem and the group had to agree how much risk would be acceptable.

Dr Tim Hopthrow, of Kent's Centre for the Study of Group Processes, said: 'When intoxicated, it is known that people are more likely to engage in risky behaviour, including the use of illicit drugs, engaging in violent and other criminal activity and driving at dangerous speeds. Our findings confirmed that individual risk decisions are increased by higher alcohol consumption.

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Contact: Martin Herrema
M.J.Herrema@kent.ac.uk
01-227-823-581
University of Kent
Source:Eurekalert

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