When you’re out on the town, how do you determine how intoxicated you are? According to a new study, you’re probably way off the mark.
New research published in the BMC Public Health journal shows an interesting tendency in how we judge our own drunkenness. A recent study from the University of Cardiff found that drinkers tend to perceive their level of intoxication relative to the people they’re surrounded by.
In the study, researchers breathalyzed more than 1,800 people on Friday and Saturday nights and asked follow-up questions of about 400 participants. The results? Responses from drinkers about their own intoxication levels were biased by the behavior of those that they observed nearby and didn’t reflect how drunk they actually were.
“It turns out that, irrespective of how much someone has [had to drink], if they observe others who are more drunk than they are, they feel less at risk from drinking more,” professor Simon Moore stated in a press release.
The underestimations of drunkenness were alarming. In many cases, drinkers who rated themselves as “moderately at risk” were well over the legal limit for drunk driving and were much more intoxicated than they believed. On the other hand, it was just as easy for people to overestimate their level of intoxication. Drinkers who were almost sober believed themselves to be much more drunk than they actually were when surrounded by more intoxicated peers.
Scientists hope these results will help decrease excessive drinking by making people aware of how self-perception of drunkenness actually works. Elements of this research also match up with a previous Australian study that discovered people in bars with a large majority of male drinkers experienced higher levels of intoxication.
The results from both of these studies prove the importance of making smart choices when choosing your drinking buddies!
Check out some other studies on drinking habits below: