The Effects of Alcohol on Social Behavior

Jesse Bering in Scientific American:

Intoxicating-studies_1 Given the sobering costs of drinking on society (alcohol accounts for 70 percent of fatal traffic accidents, and nearly the same annual percentage of murders, spousal battery and child abuse) alcoholism has justifiably been the focus of considerable attention by clinical psychologists over the years. It’s certainly not my intent to downplay these serious issues associated with drinking. Believe me, here in Northern Ireland I’d wager there are more pubs than there are fast food restaurants in all of Texas, and one needn’t look far in Belfast to see how ruinous alcohol can be on the lives of those affected.

Yet one mustn’t always be a teetotaling bore, either. There is such a thing as responsible drinking; and over the past few decades, fun-loving psychologists have occasionally explored some of the quirky effects of moderate drinking on social behavior and cognition. Dostoyevsky used to refer to vodka as the “Russian God,” which, if you think about it, is still a decent metaphor for the type of spiritual escapism available in an 80 proof bottle of today’s Absolut. In fact, back in 1965, Harvard University psychologists Rudolf Kalin and David McClelland, along with Michael Kahn from Yale University, found precisely this type of “metaphysical” effect of drinking on male college students.

More here.