A study by Bangor University which examined different emotional responses to alcohol, has found that wine relaxes you, vodka and whisky can make you more aggressive and beer boosts your confidence.
The study of 30,000 18 to 34 year olds, from 21 different countries, who had drunk each of the specified types of alcohol within the past year, were asked to fill in a questionnaire, which examined how different types of alcohol made them feel.
The study, was led by experts at Bangor University and King’s College London, found red wine was likely to make people feel sexy and relaxed – but also tired and tearful. Drinking spirits was linked to feelings of aggression and restlessness – but also gave people a boost of energy and confidence. Beer increased both relaxation and confidence. White wine was seen to have a similar impact as red wine – but far less pronounced.
The authors, writing in the BMJ Open journal, said: “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.”
Spirits are more likely to result in feelings of aggression
Professor Mark Bellis of Bangor University, who is also Public Health Wales’ director of policy, research and international development, said: “For centuries, the history of rum, gin, vodka and other spirits has been laced with violence.
“This global study suggests even today consuming spirits is more likely to result in feelings of aggression than other drinks.
“In the UK, a litre of off-licence spirits can easily be bought for £15 or less, making a double shot only 75p.
“Such prices can encourage consumption at levels harmful to the health of the drinker and through violence and injuries also represent a risk to the people around them.”
Alcohol itself – known by the scientific term of ethanol – is chemically identical regardless of the beverage it is in.
But Professor Bellis said the way people drink it is partly responsible for the different emotional responses.
He said: “Spirits are often consumed more quickly and have much higher concentrations of alcohol in them. This can result in a quicker stimulating effect as blood alcohol levels increase. They may also be consumed in different social occasions so people may be drinking them deliberately to feel the drunken effect quickly while other types of drink are more likely to be consumed slowly or with food.
“As people get the kick from escalating alcohol levels, the same increases reduce the brain’s ability to suppress impulsive feelings or to consider the consequences of acting on them.”
But he added: ‘It is worth also bearing in mind that there are compounds apart from alcohol in different drinks.
“Although these are part of the difference in taste between drinks little consideration has been given to what other effects they may have on the drinker.”
People’s preconceptions about drinks also play a role – for example if people drink red wine to relax they will probably end up more relaxed, and if they drink vodka to party they will probably end up feeling energised.
Marketing plays into this, Professor Bellis said: “There is a lot of content in alcohol promotion to suggest people will get those positive emotional responses they may be seeking.”