The amount a young person drinks is largely determined by how much others in the group drink, and an extrovert is likely to drink more, a new study has found.
The study was conducted by Dutch psychologist Sander Bot, who also found that men, and people with positive expectations regarding alcohol drink more.
The research was carried out under young adults aged 18 to 25 years, most of whom did not live at home. Nevertheless, upbringing and the role of the parents still exert a small effect on the amount drunk.
The results of this study showed that 12 to 14 year olds are most influenced by classmates with a higher status and those with whom they want to be friends. These differences in influence were, however, not found in the observations of young adults.
Here, a high degree of imitation was also found yet no distinction in influence was seen between either best friends or participants with high status, the so-called leader figures. Although these factors may play a role in the decision to actually go on a night out or indeed to leave the drinking situation, but within the situation they make no difference whatsoever.
Dr Bot also noted that sex ratio is a major determinant for alcohol use: the more men present in a group, the greater the amount drunk by both men and women.
Possibly a process might be initiated in male groups which ensures that men drink more than usual because participants challenge each other or because no one wants to be surpassed. The observations revealed that men adjust their alcohol use to that of other group members far more than women do. Men also drank more, whereas women stopped drinking earlier in the presence of men who expect that alcohol use leads to sexual excitement.