Study: The Four Kinds of Drunken personality

Posted on July 14, 2015

Photo: flickr

Evidence suggests that undergrad drinkers fall into four different, colourful types, each with a particular shift in personality when under the influence. The findings could increase our understanding of why some students behave in harmful ways when drunk while others usually don’t.

Rachel Winograd and colleagues at the University of Missouri-Columbia asked 374 student participants to complete a personality test twice, once considering themselves as they normally are, the other time how they behave and feel when drunk. The researchers find four types of student drinker:

Those for whom drinking had less effect on their intellect and conscientiousness than is typical, dubbed Hemingways in tribute to the writer’s reputed imperviousness to alcohol.

Those who are introverted when sober but highly extraverted and unconscientious when drunk, who experienced the greatest overall personality shift thanks to alcohol, and are named Nutty Professors after the Jerry Lewis character.

Those who are very pleasant and harmonious (high agreeableness) when sober, and when drunk retain most of their agreeableness, conscientiousness and intellect; in all, they experience the slightest alcohol related change: the Mary Poppinses.

Finally, those dubbed Mr Hydes due to their larger decreases in agreeableness, conscientiousness, and intellect when drunk.

Previous research had suggested that alcohol-related personality change is a predictor of alcohol problems, but this research develops this understanding by attributing it to a type of change, rather than simply the quantity of change. As such, it suggests possible risk factors that can help individuals understand why they are the ones suffering, when all they are doing is drinking like their crew do.

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