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Music makes women drink faster

Ever wonder why there is loud music playing in so many bars, even though it makes it almost impossible to have a conversation? Newly-published research suggests one good reason: It inspires faster drinking, at least among young women.

That’s the key finding of a study from the University of Portsmouth, which found this dynamic was consistent whether the music playing was fast or slow. It is published in the October issue of the Journal Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.

Psychologists Lorenzo Stafford and Hannah Dodd report that, in their experiment, “music caused a mismatch between the objective breath alcohol levels and the perceived alcohol strength.” In other words, it appears to disrupt drinkers’ realisation of their own level of intoxication.

The atmosphere in which many people socialise may provide a catalyst for excessive drinking. Their small-scale study featured 45 female university students between the ages of 18 and 28. All were regular consumers of vodka-based drinks. They were given 275ml of flavoured vodka-based drink popular in the UK.

The women consumed the drink while watching a relaxing DVD, some in silence whist the others did so while listening to a piece of contemporary dance music modified to produce slow-tempo and fast-tempo versions. This meant the women were in one of three categories: no music, slow music, or fast music.

Researchers monitoried how long it took each of them to finish their drink. At that point they were asked to evaluate the drink and describe their mood.

Researchers found some notable differences between the participants who did and did not listen to a soundtrack of current club music. The most obvious being the women finished their drink faster when music—fast or slow—was playing.

For those who weren’t listening to music, their moods improved as their breath alcohol levels rose, meaning the beverage was relaxing them or raising their spirits.

This was not found among participants who were listening to music, concluding that the music curbed some of the sedative effects of alcohol. You’re less likely to feel that desired mellowness of alcohol if music is blasting around you…

Pacific Standard: Read the full article