Group influence on alcohol-induced risk-taking

First published: 09/05/2019 | Last updated: May 20th, 2019

Aims: The aim of the study was to examine the effect of acute alcohol consumption on subsequent risk-taking behaviour. Further, the current research aimed to examine how this behaviour may be influence by groups.

Method: A between subjects design was used to examine alcohol-induced risk-taking behaviour in 99 social drinkers (62 female): 48 individuals and 51 in natural friendship groups of three. Groups were examined within the same room and were permitted to communicate throughout, whereas individuals who attended the laboratory were isolated throughout the session. Participants provided information of their alcohol consumption behaviour and trait-like risk-taking prior to completing two behavioural measures of risk-taking behaviour: Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) and Stoplight Task (SLT). Individuals and groups were then randomly allocated to consume either an alcoholic (0.6g/kg males, 0.5g/kg females) or placebo beverage. The BART and SLT were then completed a second time. Baseline and post-beverage measures of mood, alcohol urge and subjective intoxication were also collected.

Results: No main effect of beverage (alcohol versus placebo) on risk-taking behaviour was reported. However, a main effect of context (individual versus group) on risk-taking behaviour was found, as groups were significantly more risk-taking that those who were tested in isolation. There were no significant interactions found for context and beverage on risk-taking behaviour.

Conclusion: The results suggest that social contexts may be more influential than alcohol on risk-taking behaviour. Moving forward, it is therefore important for alcohol administration studies to consider the influence of social contexts on alcohol-related behaviours.


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Marianne Erskine-Shaw