Drinking Beer Makes You Happier, Friendlier, Less Inhibited

drinking beer and being happy
General Health

A new study by Swiss researchers shows that drinking beer makes you happier, friendlier, less inhibited, and possibly even sexier. [1]

I’m betting that not many people are shocked to read this, but at least you can back up what you’ve always known with science.

Drinking beer, the researchers said, also helps people spot other happy people, and helps you connect with their emotions more easily. Lead researcher Matthias Liechti, head of psychopharmacology research at University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland, explained:

“We found that drinking a glass of beer helps people see happy faces faster, and enhances concern for positive emotional situations.”

Mixed Messages

Ah, beer. As much as people enjoy you, you’re not perfect. Beer goggles make you happier and friendlier, and that’s all fine and good; but it can be a little dangerous if you’re not careful or if you don’t have a buddy with you to keep you out of trouble.

Beer may also damage the heart, brain, and stomach; but it’s also been shown to help spark creativity and maybe even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

But back to the study…

The Study (and it must have been a fun one…)

Researchers studied 60 individuals, 30 men and 30 women, assigning half to drink enough beer to raise their blood alcohol level to about 0.4 grams per liter. (The amount was proportional to their body size.) The other half drank nonalcoholic beer. (Snooze.)

Before and after drinking, both groups performed a variety of tasks, including facial recognition, as well as tests measuring their empathy and sexual arousal. Both groups then switched types of beer and repeated the tests.

After a drink of the “hard” stuff, people were found to be more eager to socialize – especially the women and those who tended to be more socially reserved.

Drinking beer also made it easier for some people – again, especially the women – to view sexually explicit images. However, it didn’t make them more sexually aroused.

Dr. Wim van den Brink, former head of the ECNP Scientific Program Committee, who was not involved in the study, said:

“This is an interesting study confirming conventional wisdom that alcohol is a social lubricant and that moderate use of alcohol makes people happier, more social and less inhibited when it comes to sexual engagement.”

Furthermore, drinking beer did not appear to increase levels of oxytocin in the participants. Oxytocin is a hormone associated with happiness and bonding with others. [2]

The lack of changes in oxytocin levels suggests that beer makes bonding easier for people because of other reasons.

Wim van den Brink has several theories about why beer has this effect on people. It could be due to differences in blood alcohol levels after drinking the same amount of beer; differences in tolerance due to previous alcohol use; or socio-cultural factors. He explained:

“It should also be recognized that different effects of alcohol can be seen according to whether your blood alcohol is increasing or decreasing, and of course how much alcohol you have taken.”

Wim van den Brink also noted that people’s emotions may not reflect their actual behavior while they’re under the influence of alcohol. [1]

The study appears in the journal Psychopharmacology.


[1] HealthDay

[2] Medical Daily