'Happy Drunk' Is Just A Myth, Say Scientists

Despite popular belief, our personalities don't change between drunk and sober

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If you're the type who often changes into a ridiculously good mood after one too many pints, it's not the booze that's doing it. According to new research, alcohol doesn't alter personality, which means there's actually no such thing as 'happy drunk'.

A study published in Clinical Psychological Science shows that there is little switch in character between sober and wasted. And although people tend to become more extroverted after drinking, this is just a louder version of their usual nature.

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"We were surprised to find such a discrepancy between drinkers' perceptions of their own alcohol-induced personalities and how observers perceived them," psychological scientist Rachel Winograd of the University of Missouri, St. Louis explained. "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."

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To establish whether personality really does change when drinking, the researchers asked 156 participants to complete a survey on their typical alcohol consumption and their perceptions of their own 'typical sober' and 'typical drunk' personality. They later visited a lab with groups of friends where they were given vodka and lemonade cocktails , while being asked to take part in group activities to bring out a variety of personality traits.

After drinking, participants reported lower levels of conscientiousness, openness to experience, and agreeableness. They also reported higher levels of extraversion and emotional stability, but those observing only noticed changes in one trait - the extraversion.

The researchers said this makes sense considering extraversion is the most outwardly visible personality factor. Yet they also acknowledged that the participants' own expectations of their drunk personality may have contributed to a "discrepancy" in ratings.

"Of course, we also would love to see these findings replicated outside of the lab - in bars, at parties, and in homes where people actually do their drinking," Winograd said."Most importantly, we need to see how this work is most relevant in the clinical realm and can be effectively included in interventions to help reduce any negative impact of alcohol on peoples' lives."