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Do different drinks affect our emotions?

By
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks
assorted drinks

22nd November 2017 – Our choice of alcoholic drink might reflect how we want to shape our emotions, an analysis of drinkers in 21 countries suggests.

It found that red wine and beer are seen as most likely to make us relaxed. This contrasts with spirits, which are more closely associated with aggression and feeling ill.

To reach their conclusions, researchers from Public Health Wales NHS Trust and King's College London drew on data from the Global Drug Survey into illicit drug and alcohol use among adults.

Positive and negative emotions

This provided information on alcohol consumption by 29,836 people aged 18 to 34. The questions explored their feelings about drinking beer, spirits, and red or white wine when at home or when out. These emotions were classed as energised, confident, relaxed, sexy, negative, tired, aggressive, ill, restless, and tearful.

Only 20% of respondents associated drinking spirits with feeling relaxed. That compares to just under 53% for red wine and around 50% for beer.

Spirits scored poorly for their association with feeling ill. However, they were valued for their association with feeling energetic, confident, and sexy.

Table 1: Overall reported positive emotions by individual type of alcoholic drink

Positive emotions

Spirits

Red wine

White wine

Beer

Energised

58.4%

7.1%

15.1%

24.8%

Confident

59%

27.9%

28.3%

44.5%

Relaxed

20.1%

52.8%

32.7%

49.9%

Sexy

42.4%

25.2%

23.7%

18.9%

 

Younger people aged between 18 and 24 were more likely to associate any type of alcohol with feelings of confidence, energy, and sexiness when they went out drinking.

And women were much more likely to associate each feeling – except aggression – with all types of alcohol.

Drinking spirits was more likely to draw out negative feelings than other types of alcoholic drinks. Almost a third of spirit drinkers linked this tipple with feelings of aggression compared with just 2.6% for red wine.

Table 2: Overall reported negative emotions by individual type of alcoholic drink

Negative emotions

Spirits

Red wine

White wine

Beer

Tired

15.3%

60.1%

18.4%

38.9%

Aggressive

29.8%

2.6%

2.7%

6.7%

Ill

47.8%

19.3%

14.5%

16.7%

Restless

27.8%

5.2%

6.4%

9.3%

Tearful

22.2%

17.1%

10.0%

9.9%

 

Men, heavy drinkers, and alcoholics were more likely to associate aggression with all types of alcohol. And heavy drinkers were more likely to choose any drink that was associated for them with feelings of aggression and tearfulness when at home or drinking out.

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