Consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol in social situations tend to make individuals less likely to indulge in risky behaviour, a new study has found.
The research, by psychologists from the University of Kent and the University of East Anglia, produced the first evidence found outside of laboratory conditions that being in a group can reduce some effects of alcohol consumption.
The findings could lead to the design of new interventions designed to promote safer recreational drinking.
Researchers asked University of Kent students who were drinking in groups in bars and at a music festival at its Canterbury campus to decide what levels of risk they thought was acceptable before recommending someone should take various actions.
They accepted a higher level of risk when they were drinking and deciding alone, rather than when they were drinking and deciding in a group of others.
"When intoxicated, it is known that people are more likely to engage in risky behaviour, including the use of illicit drugs, engaging in violent and other criminal activity and driving at dangerous speeds. Our findings confirmed that individual risk decisions are increased by higher alcohol consumption," Dr Tim Hopthrow, of Kent's Centre for the Study of Group Processes, said.
The research, titled Drinking in social groups: does 'groupdrink' provide safety in numbers when deciding about risk?, is published in the journal Addiction.