Newspaper article

People Associate Wine, Beer and Spirits with Different Types of Emotions, Study Finds

Newspaper article

People Associate Wine, Beer and Spirits with Different Types of Emotions, Study Finds

Article excerpt

People associate different emotions with different types of alcohol, according to a study published online in the journal BMJ Open.

The study, which surveyed almost 30,000 young adults from 21 countries, found that vodka, gin, whiskey, rum and other spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, while beer and wine are more likely to cause people to feel relaxed.

But spirits are also more likely than beer and wine to elicit two positive feelings — energy and confidence, the study found.

Of course, these findings don’t mean that different types of alcohol actually cause different types of emotions. As pointed out by the authors of the study (a team of researchers from Public Health Wales and Kings College London) many other factors are involved, including advertising, when and where the alcohol is drunk, what the person’s mood was before they started drinking, and the alcohol content of different drinks.

In fact, the researchers refer to their study as only “an initial exploration of alcohol's perceived relationship with emotions.”

Still, the findings may help policymakers develop more effective interventions for one of the world’s most pressing public health issues: the harmful use of alcohol, which is a direct factor in more than 200 diseases and injury-related medical conditions. In the United States, about 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year, making alcohol the third-leading cause of preventable death.

“Understanding emotions associated with alcohol consumption is imperative to addressing alcohol misuse, providing insight into what emotions influence drink choice between different groups in the population,” the researchers write in their paper.

Positive and negative emotions

The data for the study comes from the Global Drug Survey, which each year asks 100,000 people around the world to anonymously answer questions on the ways in which they use both legal and illicit drugs. The study analyzed the responses of 29,836 people, aged 18 to 34, who said they had drunk four types of alcohol — beer, red wine, white wine and spirits — during the previous 12 months.

Among the survey’s questions were ones that asked the respondents which emotions they associated with each alcohol type, both positive (energized, relaxed, sexy, confident) and negative (tired, aggressive, ill, restless, tearful). The current study analyzed those answers, accounting for such demographic factors as age, gender, education and country of origin, as well as the respondents’ level of dependency on alcohol (based on how much alcohol they said they consumed).

The analysis revealed that people tend to attribute different emotions to different types of alcohol. Here are some of the findings:

* Spirits were more likely to be associated with positive emotions than beer, red wine or white wine. More than half of the respondents said drinking spirits made them feel energized and confident (about 60 percent), and four in 10 (42 percent) said it made them feel sexy.

* But spirits were also more likely to draw out negative emotions. Almost half of the respondents (48 percent) said drinking spirits made them ill, for example, and almost a third (30 percent) said it made them feel aggressive. By comparison, only 2.5 percent of the respondents linked aggression to drinking red wine and only 6.7 percent linked it to drinking beer. Restlessness and tearfulness were also much more likely to be attributed to drinking spirits than to the other types of alcohol. …

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