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Drinking and Personality- Is there a correlation?

Drinking and personality has not much been a topic of research. Though there are different classifications for personality types such as Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), ABCD Personality types, etc. The most commonly expended personality types are the introverts and the extroverts. Introverts are quiet people preferring solitude, and extroverts are outgoing and sociable people preferring to be in the midst of group always. Personality traits have been studied to be applied in job roles, career development and even love or dating relationships. Not limited to that personality traits have also been studied to examine its correlation to depression, happiness, loneliness, and narcissism. However, it is interesting to find that personality trait has a correlation to drinking attitudes.

A study by Singh and Kumar (2016) found that introverts have a positive attitude towards drinking alcohol whereas extroverts have a negative attitude towards drinking alcohol. Since introverts like to be alone, they prefer to have a drink when they are happy and usually have in small amounts. Introverts are not big drinkers but they may drink a glass or two to give them a good kick. They are not risk takers and eventually do not get themselves drunk (Dembling, 2012). On the other hand, extroverts who like to be around people all the time, tend to feel lonely when they are alone. They easily resort to drinking alcohol to overcome boredom, loneliness, and sadness. This causes them to easily fall prey to heavy drinking. Drinking can be a coping mechanism for extroverts. Extroverts also engage in binge drinking in social contexts such parties, clubs, and bars as it gives them mood enhancement (Fairbairn et al., 2015).

When does a person resort to drinking alcohol matters. If an individual tends to drink when he or she is happy then the individual tends to hold a positive perspective towards drinking and is often a social drinker either alone or with friends in a social context. However, if an individual tends to drink alcohol when he or she is sad, then the individual perceives drinking as a coping mechanism and hence resorts to heavy drinking.

A research by Winograd and colleagues (2017) was conducted to find if drinking alcohol changes the personality of individuals and found that there were no discrepancies. There was no observance of drunk personality vs. sober personality. However, the researchers noted that findings of the study would be ideal if replicated outside the lab namely in bars, parties and at homes where drinking happens. The only reliable difference found in the study was with respect to change in one personality trait namely extraversion. It was observed that participants were high on gregariousness, assertiveness and levels of activity (Winograd et al, 2017). The study clearly demonstrated that alcohol influence does not change personality types. However, the purpose of the study was to identify personality changes (whether sober or drunk) after alcohol consumption which would help in determining interventions to reduce negative impact of alcohol on people’s lives (Winograd et al, 2017).

Knowing people’s attitude towards drinking may perhaps help in understanding whether people use drinking as a coping mechanism or as a social drink at parties, gatherings, etc. It may also help in comprehending when heavy drinking becomes a potential health or social problem; and if personalities play a role in it? Perhaps this calls for more research in this area.

References

Fairbairn, C.E. et al (2015). Extraversion and the Rewarding Effects of Alcohol in a Social Context. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 124(3): 660-673

Dembling, S. (2012). The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World. New York: Penguin Group

Singh, T.K. & Kumar, N. (2016). Depression: Personality and Gender towards Alcohol Drinking Attitude. The International Journal of Indian Psychology, Vol.3, Is. 2, No.3.

Winograd, R.P. et al. (2017). An Experimental Investigation of Drunk Personality Using Self and Observer Reports. Clinical Psychological Science, Vol.5, Issue. 3.

20 Comments

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  1. A few things can be said of this article. One thing I can say is that the title is too vague. it doesn’t really seem like a title that someone else would want to click on out of pure interest. Another thing that I noticed is that most of the work on this article seems to be more evidence over your own words. I do see your points but there seems to be more talking or about the same amount of talking between you and the evidence. Instead I’d like to hear more of your own understandings of it, or better yet keep the evidence you provided but write more of your own words on top of it. Other than that I think the information was good but I recommend that you show some of the methods that your sources used to arriving at their data. Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Jihovanni, I agree with your point. I will see how well I can improve to elaborate from the research findings and write it in detail. I am clueless as of now. Any ideas? Thank you

  2. Irene, thanks for the piece! I have a few suggestions on how you could improve upon a piece like this in the future. Firstly and most importantly, watch your grammar and spelling. If a sentence does not make sense to the reader, that significantly lowers your credibility as a writer and/or expert. Also, try your best to avoid generalizations. While the studies you referred to may have reported on introverts and extroverts, keep in mind that most people don’t fall into one of those categories or are a combination of them- extroversion is a spectrum, after all.

    • Sure Gabrielle, I will be careful of grammar and spelling in my forthcoming articles. I have been overworking lately on so many projects, that I really didn’t get time to proofread. But I will ensure to do that in the future. With regard to generalizations, I do agree that many characteristics cannot match a personality type 100 percent, but I wrote based on the little facts or knowledge that I gathered. Anyways thanks for bringing it to my notice. I will be careful when making generalized statements…

  3. This was a very interesting article! The title captured me!! I am fond of any information that has to do with personality. My question to the author is: how is this information going to useful? In other words, how is knowing this information beneficial?

    • Yes Reyes, your comment helped me to think and perhaps knowing about drinking attitudes and personality will help in understanding when a person is likely to become a heavy drinker?

      • I think I see where you might be going with your idea. The benefits of knowing this information may help determine whether an individual chances of becoming an alcoholic increases based on personality because of the situation one is more likely to put themselves in. Since extroverts tend to be in more social setting and usually drink in order to boost up a bit more energy to set an atmosphere. However, despite the traits of an extrovert, they are not always in a cheerful mood and prolong use of alcohol will eventually disrupt normal function of neurotransmitters in the brain (in addition other systems in the body can be disrupted as well). Furthermore, alcohol does not only affect a person physiology, it also harms a person’s psychology. Linking alcohol as a boost eventually will lead to dependency.

  4. I don’t necessarily agree with what this article has to say. As a person with social anxiety who knows many other people with social anxieties, I think drinking definitely does change personalities and also tat introverts drink just as much as extroverts do. Drinking for some introverts allows them to be more social and to relax their anxieties a little bit. Unfortunately drugs and alcohol are how a lot of introverts cope with extravertional (made up word) activities. My question for the author is; do you think social experiments about drinking can be conducted in a lab? I don’t think they can.

    • I agree with you. Some characteristics can interchange between personalities. As you said an introvert can also become a heavy drinker and she/he may use drinking as a coping mechanism to come out of their shell as you said to socialize. However, as per Winograd et al study a social experiment was conducted in a lab kind set up like in a university (not exactly a lab) which was the study’s limitation and hence the findings of the study was expected to be replicated in real time settings like clubs, bars, parties, etc.

  5. A well written article with good sources and good source material. It looks well into the relationship of the two predominant personality groups and relates their drinking choices (amount, frequency, etc..) to each group. It was interesting to read that we introverts are more likely to drink, but not necessarily to excess (unless under stressors or in certain situations). Given that most personalities change when alcohol is consumed above a certain point it would be interesting to read more about those situations.

  6. An interesting read! I’ve never really considered the relationship between extraversion and drinking, but once I’ve read this article there seems to be some links drawn between what I’ve observed in my own personal experience and what was explained in this article. For example, it seems like drinking is used more of a mobiliser in social contexts amongst extroverts (e.g to be more friendly, to be in a ‘high’ mood so that they have a fun time), and thus I often observe that they consume copious amounts and often end up binge-drinking. On the other hand, the introverts prefer to drink in a social context where there is a smaller number of people (probably close friends they are comfortable with), and drink in smaller amounts (e.g. usually as a ‘celebration’ for something).

    This has brought to me some thoughts regarding social contexts where both extroverts and introverts are brought together. Due to the clash in personalities and drinking purposes and lifestyles, could this lead to discomfort? For example, I have been in a situation where the ‘extroverts’ wanted to engage in more excessive and heavy drinking because it is ‘more fun’, and thus tried to persuade and pressurise other members of the group to do so. The introverts reluctantly went along with downing shots after shots but were not happy to do so. Of course, this involves other convoluted factors such as group dynamics, personal self-control etc. I would have loved to read more about such real-life situations and how different personalities may manifest in different behaviours in different combinations of people.

    On a minor note, there seems to be some minor typos (e.g. ‘quite’ instead of ‘quiet’) that can definitely be avoided with just a little proof-reading! (:

  7. Alcoholic beverages and their connection to the psychological concepts of introverts and extroverts is a direct indication of the reasons behind which liquor to choose, and why people even decide to drink in large or small quantities. In real life situations people either drink just socially at a part or event, and then possibly by themselves within their own comfort zone and solitude. Now, everyone is different so just because someone always drinks by themselves does not necessarily mean they are lonely or sad, as opposed to someone who drinks when they are happy may not be an extroverted individual. It truly is particular to the person, their life experiences or the tolerance they have for alcoholic beverages, and this article was an awesome read and attestment to that theory.

  8. This article is interesting because i would have assumed the opposite. However, I do have to state on personal experience that I have not noticed many extroverts who like to drink alone; therefore questioning the statement that loneliness may cause heavy drinking. I do agree with the introverts being happy drinkers, because many seem to prefer a small glass of wine in the comfort of their interest or hobby, instead of heavy amounts.

    Good article!

  9. When using broader categories like introversion and extroversion as examples for drinking habits, it becomes too easy to generalize. You did mention MBTI, which is generalizing in itself, though I will lend a bit of credit to the theory of cognitive functions and the function stack to state my point.

    Which is that not all introverts nor extroverts are necessarily prone to enjoying sensory pleasures. Of course, it will vary on the individual level, and anyway it’s not like drinking and personality has been researched definitively. Thus I get the use for introversion and extroversion in the research/article.

    I noticed how while you were explaining what introverts and extroverts are like, you said “Introverts are quite people preferring solitude, and extroverts are outgoing and sociable people preferring to be in the midst of group always”. [There seems to be a typo, since you probably meant to type ‘quiet’ instead of ‘quite”]. I understand that when explaining to the general populace [who might be unaware of these terms] it’s best to generalize, but extroverts don’t prefer to be in a group at all times. Those are the extremes, or people with abandonment issues. As well as introverts being quiet, it really depends on the setting and who they’re with, just the same as any person regardless of introversion or extroversion [of course, I admit the stereotype is there for a reason].

    What I would like to see more from this research is the causation for certain personalities to their drinking habits. Correlation is fine, but a lot of things correlate with each other, and finding such patterns is easy to the point of making mistakes. About alcohol seeming to cause extroversion in people; it does seem fairly natural since it lowers the individual’s inhibitions. That in turn affects other things which people learn, namely in their behavior. Whether further studies will find anything about how it affects an individual’s temperament or personality, I’m interested to find out.

  10. An interesting article. I never considered the relationship between introverts and extroverts to their drinking habits, but this article managed to put things into perspective. It makes sense that introverts are more likely to drink when they’re happy because it increases that elated feeling one gets when inebriated, while extroverts drink when they’re sad to induce that same feeling. An intriguing observational piece.
    Consuming alcohol seems to encourage more extroverted type of behavior, which is why it could be most observable with introverts. I believe that the study regarding sober vs. drunk personality in order to better determine drinking tendencies would be beneficial for the community because it could be used to help people who have a probability to be heavy/binge drinkers.

  11. This article was interesting. I’m curious to know what specifically they were looking for in terms of indications of personality change because I find that when anyone drinks excessively, introverted or extroverted, their personality does tend to change as they are in a different state of mind. It was interesting to read about how more introverts are more likely to positively drink not for the purpose of getting drunk usually but just for happiness. For me, I’m an extroverted introvert so I feel I can relate to both. Good read overall

  12. This article and study was interesting and provided much insight on introverts and extroverts. I did find it surprising that introverts were more prone to drinking, but not being risk-takers wasn’t much a surprise. As an introvert myself, I related a little to what was in the article, haha. It is interesting how alcohol doesn’t change the personality but rather enhances extroversion in the individual. While they have found no evidence, I do think such an experiment would be hard considering that in a public setting there is more than alcohol that influences decisions, words, and actions.

  13. Interesting perspective on introverts and extroverts. I would say alcohol brings about your personality, especially when you get drunk. So perhaps together with personality changes after alcohol consumption, it is good to also find out about the thing(s) that bother individuals the most in their hearts, and find ways to resolve these conflicts.

  14. Very intriguing article. I went into this assuming that extraverts would be more prone to drinking than the introverts among the group. It makes a lot of sense however once explained within why that noticed proved incorrect. It was also very clearly explained why the amount of drinking and type may differ between the two. I would be very curious to see how this applies to the specific Mayer-Briggs personalities in a real life situation as described in the final paragraph. Overall a wonderful collection of insightful research on a topic I would have never thought to research on my own!

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Written by Writer Irene

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I am a research and academic writer. Writing is my passion and profession as well. I love writing on topics related to psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience, counselling and behavioural science. I believe in writing life applicable posts, research papers and books. Some of my areas of interest are counselling, life coaching and hospice/palliative care counselling.

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