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Alcohol Induces Bonding in Social Groups

Update Date: Jul 31, 2012 09:01 AM EDT

According to a latest study, alcohol is the social icebreaker. 

Researchers have found that moderate amount of alcohol when consumed in social groups, helps people boost their emotions and enhances social bonding.

Also, it can reduce negative emotions or at least reduce the display of it by being silent in a group. 

For the study, 720 men and women (unknown to each other) were divided into 20 groups of three people in all possible gender combinations.  

Researchers said, that while the previous studies have always been focused on the effect of alcohol on individuals, they "felt that many of the most significant effects of alcohol would more likely be revealed in an experiment using a social setting," study author Michael Sayette, a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, said in a journal news release. 

Each of the 20 groups was given an alcoholic drink, or a placebo beverage or a nonalcoholic control beverage. The alcoholic beverage contained one part vodka and 3.5 parts cranberry-juice cocktail, with a lower dose of vodka for women. To make placebo beverages more credible, glasses were smeared with vodka, reported Health Day. 

While seated, the participants finished their drinks in 36 minutes. The analysis found that groups that took alcoholic drinks, spent more time talking with each other, and it was obvious that alcohol had fueled social bonding. 

Also, according to researchers who had videotaped the interactions, there was increased number of "true" smiles in the groups with alcohol. They said that in such groups, all the group members' smiles at that same time more often and were more likely to be engaged in the discussion.  

It was also found that alcohol had an effect on how strongly the group members liked each other's company.  

"We can begin to ask questions of great interest to alcohol researchers: Why does alcohol make us feel better in group settings? Is there evidence to suggest a particular participant may be vulnerable to developing a problem with alcohol?" Sayette said according to the report. 

The study, published recently in the journal Psychological Science, was funded by the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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