Alcohol Makes Smiles More Contagious Among Men

A new study has found a link between social alcohol consumption and men’s behaviour: males tend to smile more in such environments.


Hypothesis: does alcohol make social interactions more fluid for men?

The researchers had set out to find out whether men find it more rewarding to be in a social set-up entailing alcohol consumption as compared to how their female counterparts view it. This hypothesis was formulated based on the common occurrence of men saying that alcohol helps in their social interactions. Alcohol, the ice-and-smile breaker for men, perhaps?

The research paper, entitled “Alcohol and Emotional Contagion. An Examination of the Spreading of Smiles in Male and Female Drinking Groups” was published in the Association for Psychological Science’s journal,Clinical Psychological Science.

The experiment: setting up social drinking groups and observing their interactions

To determine whether the hypothesis is significant or not, the scientists studied the non-verbal signs of social bonding among the people who got together for a drink or not.

720 social drinkers were recruited for the purpose. They were made to gather in groups of 3.

Each group has three types of beverages:

  1. An alcoholic one
  2. A non-alcoholic one
  3. A non-alcoholic one that was described as alcoholic.

The participants were then asked to drink and interact in a given amount of time.

Conclusion: Alcohol made smiles more contagious for men

The deductions based on the observations of the authors of the study read that smiles grew to be contagious for men who were in exclusively male groups.

In groups where there were both sexes, the same effect was not noted.

“This experimental alcohol study, which included a social context, finds the clearest evidence yet of greater alcohol reinforcement for men than women,” stated psychological scientist and lead researcher Catharine Fairbairn of the University of Pittsburgh.

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