Drinking Alcohol for courage and confidenceStress

February 16, 2012 18:16
Drinking  Alcohol  for courage and confidence

Having a drink might not just give men the courage to start off a conversation, but may also help inspire their wit and verbal creativity, a new study has revealed.

Researchers in the U.S. found that men who had taken enough alcohol to get mildly drunk solved more problems demanding verbal resourcefulness than sober men could, and did it more quickly. Intuitive insights into tricky word association problems came more often to men who were intoxicated but not legally drunk, said psychology graduate student Andrew Jarosz. Jarosz and his colleagues from the University of Illinois at Chicago propose that a modest alcoholic high loosens a person's focus of attention.

This, they think, makes it easier for the intoxicated person to find links between related ideas. Jarosz's team took 20 social drinkers and showed them an animated film while giving them a snack. The volunteers then drank sufficient vodka and cranberry to reach an average blood alcohol level of 0.075 per cent - just below the current 0.08 per cent cut-off for legal intoxicaton in the U.S. A control group of 20 social drinkers watched the same film without eating or drinking. Both groups then finished a creative verbal reasoning problem-solving task.

Volunteers saw three words like, peach, arm and tar - and had to come up with a fourth word that forms a phrase with each of them, like pit. Sober men solved about six of the problems correctly, taking about 15.2 seconds to answer each.

But those participants who were at peak intoxication solved around nine problems correctly, taking an average of 11.5 seconds to come up with the solution. Men from each group performed about the same on the test before the study commenced. Psychologist J. Scott Saults of the University of Missouri in Columbia suggested that intoxication might aid verbal creativity by decreasing the ability to control one's thoughts. The study has been published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.

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