"Previous research had shown that fast music can cause fast drinking, and that music versus no music can cause a person to spend more time in a bar," said Nicolas Gueguen, a professor of behavioral sciences at the Universite de Bretagne-Sud in France, and corresponding author for the study.
"This is the first time that an experimental approach in a real context found the effects of loud music on alcohol consumption."
Gueguen and his colleagues discretely visited two bars over the course of three Saturday nights whose owners agreed to let them manipulate the sound levels.
They randomly selected 40 males aged 18 to 25 who ordered a glass of draft beer and monitored their consumption at different sound levels.
The authors offered two hypotheses for why louder music would lead to increased drinking within a decreased amount of time.
"One, in agreement with previous research on music, food and drink, high sound levels may have caused higher arousal, which led the subjects to drink faster and to order more drinks," Gueguen said.
"Two, loud music may have had a negative effect on social interaction in the bar, so that patrons drank more because they talked less."
The study will be published in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.