Alcohol is often blamed for transforming people into angrier, more flirtatious versions of themselves, but a new study shows alcohol may have less of an effect on personality than many believe.
The study, published in Clinical Psychological Science, found that participants reported that their personality drastically changes when they are drunk, but observers reported less drastic differences between the person’s "sober" and "drunk" personalities.
"We were surprised to find such a discrepancy between drinkers' perceptions of their alcohol-induced personalities and how observers perceived them,” psychological scientist Rachel Winograd at the University of the Missouri, said in a statement.
Winograd and a group of fellow researchers recruited 156 participants who completed a survey gauging their typical alcohol consumption and their perceptions of their "typical sober" personality and "typical drunk" personality.
Participants were broken into groups and given either non-alcoholic drinks or beverages tailored to produce about a .09 blood alcohol content. The participants were asked to work through a series of fun group activities with several friends while observers used video recordings to assess personality traits of those who participated in the study.
The participants were asked to complete personality measures twice during the experiment. Researchers noted that "as expected," the intoxicated participants noted changes in all five personality factors, including lower levels of conscientiousness, openness to experience, and agreeableness, and higher levels of extraversion and emotional stability.
While participants noted changes in their personality after consuming alcohol, observers noted only a change in the personality factor of extraversion. The researchers note that extraversion is the most outward personality factor, so it’s no surprise that observers and the participants noticed a change in that factor.
"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 said.