Psychological science suggests ‘a few drinks’ are in fact more important to the boys than the ladies.
Few things bring people together like sharing drinks and conversation: now there’s scientific evidence that bending the elbow with friends is good for the soul.
According to a study published last September in psychology journal Clinical Psychological Science, consuming alcohol with others is a sure-fire way to get people smiling and interacting – just as long as the group is all-male.
“We wanted to explore the possibility that social alcohol consumption was more rewarding to men than to women,” said psychological scientist and the study’s lead researcher, Catharine Fairbairn of the University of Pittsburgh. “[That] the idea that alcohol might actually ‘lubricate’ social interaction to a greater extent among men.”
They found that alcohol significantly increased the contagiousness of smiles, but only for all-male groups - it did not have a significant effect on emotional contagion for groups that contained any women. The findings suggest that alcohol is especially likely to induce a sort of "social bravery" among men, disrupting processes that would normally prevent them from responding to another person's smile.
While this isn’t, of course, a green light for blokes to grab a slab and three mates every time they want to “get in touch with their emotions”, it suggests that spending quality time with mates – perhaps while watching last weekend’s AFL Grand Final or the current Rugby World Cup – is, regardless of the final score, a win for all.
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