Mind & Body

Your Drunk Self May Actually Be the Real You

Who do you become when you drink a little too much alcohol? Maybe you're the party animal, dancing on tables and singing at the top of your lungs. Maybe you're the drama queen, getting teary-eyed and overly emotional over a text you sent your ex two months ago. Or perhaps you're the ray of sunshine, complimenting the outfits of everyone at the bar and insisting you'll all hang out sometime. According to research, your drunk alter ego isn't a separate identity at all. That's the real you, pal.

Related Video: The Science of Hangovers

Debunk Your Drunk

If you're of legal drinking age, we've got news — whether it's news you're ready to cope with or not. Research says that your drunk self is probably not as far off from your actual personality as you think it is. Though it may feel like you're a completely different person when you're in the club getting tipsy, a 2017 study published in Clinical Psychological Science found that your drunk persona doesn't differ from your sober one, more or less. Basically, you're always that special, unique, wonderful you, no matter how many tequila shots you foolishly ended up taking on your birthday.

Sloshed for Science

For the study, the researchers from University of Missouri and Purdue University sought to find out if "drunk personalities" are a thing or not. They specifically tested if "differences between sober and intoxicated personality expression can be observed reliably" by friends during some drunk game-playing. Two weeks prior to the experiment, the researchers had the 156 participants complete surveys describing their typical sober and drunk personalities. Next, the team gave half of the participants booze, then had their friends join them in the lab to play games meant to bring out different personality traits. The drinkers rated their own in-the-moment personality traits during the session while trained (and sober) raters assessed the same traits. While the drinkers noted personality differences in themselves while drunk, the sober onlookers didn't see any big differences between their sober and drunk personalities. Except for one thing: the drinks made those participants more extroverted. Obviously.

"We were surprised to find such a discrepancy between drinkers' perceptions of their own alcohol-induced personalities and how observers perceived them," said lead author Rachel Winograd, a psychological scientist at University of Missouri, in a press release. "Participants reported experiencing differences in all factors of the Five Factor Model of personality, but extraversion was the only factor robustly perceived to be different across participants in alcohol and sober conditions."

As for why you feel like an entirely different being when you've been a bit overserved? Probably just the placebo effect. If you have it in your head that tequila makes you wild or wine makes you emotional, you'll make those expectations come true all on your own. Kind of impressive, actually. Cheers!

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Hear more gin-soaked science in "Proof: The Science of Booze" by Adam Rogers. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Joanie Faletto April 26, 2018

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