Blame it on the Alcohol?


If you’re above 18 and reading this blog entry, I’m sure you’ve already had at least one alcoholic drink in your 18+ years of existence.


Not even one sip?

Boy you need to get a life.

Just kidding.

But seriously though.

Alcohol- in one way or another, has been a significant part of each college student’s life. Admit it, it’s true. Whether you drank too much, too little or not at all during your college days, I’m pretty sure alcohol was around. I would say that the some of the most interesting stories come from those drinking sessions with your friends- when you got too wasted to drive yourself home, when your friend told your other friend that you like him/her, when YOU told your friend that you liked him/her, when your friend started crying over a recent break-up. You know, the usual.

After years of being in the college scene, I’ve always wondered what factors made kids pick up more bottles and finish them more quickly. Well besides using these factors as tactics to get your friends drunk and dishing out dirt from them once they already are, factors that increase the consumption of alcohol have always fascinated industries such as liquor companies and also college students in general.

I just recently discovered that MUSIC is a major participant in each drinking session. This fact is somehow obvious considering that all beer joints have their stereos on full blast as soon as costumers walk in. A study by Drews mentions that male beer drinkers consume significantly more alcohol in the presence of background music than without it. In fact, several researchers have dissected different elements of music and studied their effects on alcohol consumptions. These elements would include: tempo, volume and the genre of music.

One element’s effect in the rate of alcohol consumption was particularly studied by Gueguen et. al. back in the year 2008. They investigated on the effect of the volume level of music played in a bar on alcohol consumption. Gueguen and his colleagues carried out this experiment in a naturalistic setting- in two separate bars, each of which were regarded to be well-known, with 40 male participants.

They allotted three Saturday nights for their experiments. To maintain the naturalistic nature of the study, they only considered those costumers who sat in the same table and ordered a glass of draft beer. The participants occupying the table must be two or more. Otherwise, they were not analyzed. Before observation, the experimenters adjusted the volume levels of the music playing at both bars- one bar had their speakers on 72dB and the other at 88dB. Both bars were playing top 40 songs. The observers where then situated at two different bars, recording data.

This research shows that increased volume levels of background music exhibit a significance increase in the speed of alcohol consumption and an increase in alcohol intake. Generally, it was observed that in the bar with louder background music, groups of people ordered more alcoholic drinks and finished them more quickly.

In other words: the louder the background music is while you drink, the higher your chances of getting your friend drunk, thereby increasing your chances of getting stuff out of your friend.

Or you can also put it this way: Run as soon as you pick up the dirt, because the bill will most probably be pretty high. But I’m sure you wouldn’t do this because you a decent person with a good heart who takes care of their drunk friends.

            The researchers note two possible explanations to this phenomenon- the first of which would be what they call the “arousal hypothesis” and the second would be inclined to social psychology. The “arousal hypothesis” states that higher sound levels would lead to higher arousal, which would correspond to faster and drinking and more alcohol consumption. Through the second hypothesis, the researchers were able to focus on the negative effect of the presence of loud music on social interaction, and its effects on alcohol consumption. They mentioned that higher levels of music would decrease social interaction, hence increasing drinking behavior.

Having mentioned the probable explanations, it looks like increasing volume levels of background music in bars or drinking joints has its pros and cons.

            PROS: you friend will most likely get drunk quickly= higher chances of dishing out chismis

            CONS: social interaction will be limited= less chances of your friend actually sharing chismis with you because you both will probably be too busy drinking.

Okay. I guess my intentions for consuming alcohol are quite obvious already. But it’s surprising how powerful and influential environmental factors are to human behavior. Cliché, I know. But even the slightest signals can tickle your senses, and actually compel you to perform behaviors that might even probably be unconscious.

I have had my fair share of visits to several drinking joints but I never actually thought about the relationship of music levels to alcohol consumption. Now it got me thinking… what else can music make people do??

Gueguen, N., (2008). Sound Level of Environmental Music and Drinking Behavior: A Field Experiment With Beer Drinkers. Research Society on Alcoholism, 32 (10), 1-4. Retrieved from


About sensemachine

We are Sir Diwa's Psych 135 students, and this is our Academic Blog! This blog is a venue for us to review and write about different journal articles related to the processes of perception, where we can integrate other areas of psychology and other related disciplines through insightful and creative thinking. Welcome to SENSE MACHINE! Because your body is your sense machine. Enjoy! Nika, Bea, Adi, Angel, Nikki, Raisa, CV

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