Why some people continue to drink heavily despite experiencing negative effects such as hangovers, fights and regrettable sexual situations, is revealed in a new study.
According to the study by the University of Washington psychologists, it is because people perceive only the positive effects that boozing has.
According to participants in the study, boosts of courage, chattiness and other social benefits of drinking outweigh its harms, which they generally did not consider as strong deterrents.
The findings offer a new direction for programs targeting binge drinking, which tend to limit their focus to avoiding alcohol's ill effects rather than considering its rewards.
"This study suggest why some people can experience a lot of bad consequences of drinking but not change their behaviour," said Kevin King, co-author and UW assistant professor of psychology.
"People think, 'It's not going to happen to me' or 'I'll never drink that much again.' They do not seem to associate their own heavy drinking with negative consequences," he said.
Nearly 500 college students completed an online survey measuring their drinking habits during the previous year.
Participants rated the upsides to drinking as more positive and likely to happen in the future, a finding the researchers call "rose-colored beer goggles."
"It's as though they think that the good effects of drinking keep getting better and more likely to happen again," said Diane Logan, lead author and a UW clinical psychology graduate student.
The study was published online May 30 in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.