There is an old Latin saying, “In vino veritas” (in wine lies the truth), that suggests that when drinking, we are more likely to reveal our true selves. We do things we wouldn’t normally do and say things we wouldn’t normally say, including the truth.
Is it true?
We believe that we transform into different people when we’re under the influence. We do things we never would have done if we were sober. We wake up the next day in a panic about just how crazy we acted the night before.
But, does getting drunk free our true self or let some other self materialize?
New findings suggest booze doesn’t actually have the power to drastically change your personality. Drunk or sober, we act very similarly.
A collaborative team of researchers from the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, worked with a group of 156 volunteer participants to figure out how alcohol actually affects behavior.
The participants were asked to complete a survey describing their “typical sober” personality and “typical drunk” personality, as well as their average alcohol consumption. Later they were returned to the lab in groups of three or four and were asked to drink and interact as a friend group. Some were given an alcohol-containing drink while others received Sprite alone.
As they drank, the participants were performing group activities such as puzzles and discussion questions, to provoke various observable behaviors. They were also asked to describe their perceptions of personality changes twice while being observed. The sessions were filmed so that the outside observers could carefully study the behavior of both the drunk and sober groups.
Participants rated themselves on the Big-5 scale of personality factor, which measures conscientiousness, openness to experience, agreeableness, extraversion and neuroticism. The drunk participants reported a change in all five personality traits, but the trained observers did not find great differences in the behavior of the drunk and sober groups.
“We were surprised to find such a discrepancy between drinkers’ perceptions of their own alcohol-induced personalities and how observers perceived them,” lead study author Rachel Winograd explained in a statement. “Participants reported experiencing differences in all factors of the Five Factor Model of personality, but extraversion was the only factor robustly perceived to be different across participants in alcohol and sober conditions.”
Other personality changes, such as anxiousness and conscientiousness, were hard to spot. In other words, drinkers said they felt like alcohol affected their personalities drastically, but the observers didn’t see those changes.
While the study cannot explain the cause for the results found, Winograd and colleagues speculate that the discrepancies between drinkers’ self-perception and the observers’ evaluation can be put down to a difference in perspective.
“We believe both the participants and raters were both accurate and inaccurate — the raters reliably reported what was visible to them and the participants experienced internal changes that were real to them but imperceptible to observers,” Winograd explained.
Other theories are possible, however – perhaps participants were experiencing a degree of placebo effect, or were simply holding themselves back outwardly in a lab setting, even as the alcohol reached their brains.
The next step, according to Winograd, is for research to continue somewhere outside of a lab and in natural settings.
“Of course, we also would love to see these findings replicated outside of the lab — in bars, at parties, and in homes where people actually do their drinking,” said Winograd. “Most importantly, we need to see how this work is most relevant in the clinical realm and can be effectively included in interventions to help reduce any negative impact of alcohol on peoples’ lives,” she added.
- The conclusion? Turns out you’re still you after you’ve drunk alcohol. And while you might behave a little differently, it’s probably not as drastic as you think it is.
For the most part, you are who you are – sober or not.
Culled by Vivieanne Danielle