Boozy Social Hour

Hey hey, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying…

Skol! Prost! L’chaim! Raising a glass together can turn strangers into friends! But can it make us TOO friendly? 

Enter Laura Gurrieri from University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and colleagues. They wondered how alcohol might affect physical distancing between people. 

Over two-hundred healthy social drinkers brought friends to participate in this study. They consumed either alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages. Half of them drank with their own friend, the other half with a stranger. Meanwhile, the researchers videotaped their interactions.

Results? Strangers drinking alcohol together closed in by about a third of a centimeter every minute! That’s almost a butter knife length per hour! Those who drank non-alcoholic beverages did NOT get closer. 

The researchers think this means alcohol loosens a natural caution we feel towards strangers. A few drinks can bring us closer to others – and to their viruses! 

Ehh, maybe meeting at a bar is not such a good idea – alcohol you later!

Reference: Gurrieri, L., Fairbairn, C. E., Sayette, M. A., & Bosch, N. (2021). Alcohol narrows physical distance between strangers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(20).