Monday, 21 Jul, 2008 Science

Loud Music Leads to More Drinking in Less Time


According to a study of the impact of music levels on alcohol consumption in a bar setting, people drink more in less time.

"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. This is the first time that an experimental approach in a real context found the effects of loud music on alcohol consumption" outlined Nicolas Gueguen, a professor of behavioral sciences at the Universite de Bretagne-Sud, located in France. Mr. Gueguen is also the corresponding author for the research.

For three Saturday evenings scientists, disguised as usual customers, had been paying a visit to two bars located in a medium-sized city in the west of France. They analyzed 40 males aged 18 to 25, who were unaware of the fact that they were being studied. The research included only those who placed an order of a glass of draft beer (25 cl. or 8 oz.).

Having the permission of the bar owners, researchers varied the sound levels of the music played in the bar (either 72 dB, which is normal, or 88 dB, which is thought to be high) before selecting a participant. Shortly after the selected participant left the bar, scientists once again selected different sound levels to choose another participant.

The results of the research showed that an increased level of sounds was the reason behind increased level of drinking during a decreased amount of time. These findings brought researchers to two hypotheses: "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," said the lead researcher. "Two, loud music may have had a negative effect on social interaction in the bar, so that patrons drank more because they talked less."

According to Gueguen's observations, over 70,000 people per year in France die due to an increased level of alcohol consumption, which is also the main cause behind fatal car accidents. "We have shown that environmental music played in a bar is associated with an increase in drinking. We need to encourage bar owners to play music at more of a moderate level ... and make consumers aware that loud music can influence their alcohol consumption," said Gueguen.

Source: Science Daily

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