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A rank based social norms model of how people judge their levels of drunkenness whilst intoxicated.
BMC Public Health 2016; 16:798BP

Abstract

BACKGROUND

A rank based social norms model predicts that drinkers' judgements about their drinking will be based on the rank of their breath alcohol level amongst that of others in the immediate environment, rather than their actual breath alcohol level, with lower relative rank associated with greater feelings of safety. This study tested this hypothesis and examined how people judge their levels of drunkenness and the health consequences of their drinking whilst they are intoxicated in social drinking environments.

METHODS

Breath alcohol testing of 1,862 people (mean age = 26.96 years; 61.86 % male) in drinking environments. A subset (N = 400) also answered four questions asking about their perceptions of their drunkenness and the health consequences of their drinking (plus background measures).

RESULTS

Perceptions of drunkenness and the health consequences of drinking were regressed on: (a) breath alcohol level, (b) the rank of the breath alcohol level amongst that of others in the same environment, and (c) covariates. Only rank of breath alcohol level predicted perceptions: How drunk they felt (b 3.78, 95 % CI 1.69 5.87), how extreme they regarded their drinking that night (b 3.7, 95 % CI 1.3 6.20), how at risk their long-term health was due to their current level of drinking (b 4.1, 95 % CI 0.2 8.0) and how likely they felt they would experience liver cirrhosis (b 4.8. 95 % CI 0.7 8.8). People were more influenced by more sober others than by more drunk others.

CONCLUSION

Whilst intoxicated and in drinking environments, people base judgements regarding their drinking on how their level of intoxication ranks relative to that of others of the same gender around them, not on their actual levels of intoxication. Thus, when in the company of others who are intoxicated, drinkers were found to be more likely to underestimate their own level of drinking, drunkenness and associated risks. The implications of these results, for example that increasing the numbers of sober people in night time environments could improve subjective assessments of drunkenness, are discussed.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Violence & Society Research Group, School of Dentistry, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, CF14 4XY, UK. mooresc2@cardiff.ac.uk.Behavioural Science Centre, Stirling Management School, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA, UK.MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow, Scotland, G2 3QB, UK.Violence & Society Research Group, School of Dentistry, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, CF14 4XY, UK.Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement, Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, 1-3 Museum Place, Cardiff, Wales, CF10 3BD, UK.Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, England, CV4 7AL, UK.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

27619969

Citation

Moore, Simon C., et al. "A Rank Based Social Norms Model of How People Judge Their Levels of Drunkenness Whilst Intoxicated." BMC Public Health, vol. 16, 2016, p. 798.
Moore SC, Wood AM, Moore L, et al. A rank based social norms model of how people judge their levels of drunkenness whilst intoxicated. BMC Public Health. 2016;16:798.
Moore, S. C., Wood, A. M., Moore, L., Shepherd, J., Murphy, S., & Brown, G. D. A. (2016). A rank based social norms model of how people judge their levels of drunkenness whilst intoxicated. BMC Public Health, 16, p. 798. doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3469-z.
Moore SC, et al. A Rank Based Social Norms Model of How People Judge Their Levels of Drunkenness Whilst Intoxicated. BMC Public Health. 2016 09 13;16:798. PubMed PMID: 27619969.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - A rank based social norms model of how people judge their levels of drunkenness whilst intoxicated. AU - Moore,Simon C, AU - Wood,Alex M, AU - Moore,Laurence, AU - Shepherd,Jonathan, AU - Murphy,Simon, AU - Brown,Gordon D A, Y1 - 2016/09/13/ PY - 2015/03/05/received PY - 2016/08/06/accepted PY - 2016/9/14/entrez PY - 2016/9/14/pubmed PY - 2017/8/23/medline KW - Alcohol KW - Decision by sampling KW - Relative rank hypothesis KW - Risk KW - Social norms SP - 798 EP - 798 JF - BMC public health JO - BMC Public Health VL - 16 N2 - BACKGROUND: A rank based social norms model predicts that drinkers' judgements about their drinking will be based on the rank of their breath alcohol level amongst that of others in the immediate environment, rather than their actual breath alcohol level, with lower relative rank associated with greater feelings of safety. This study tested this hypothesis and examined how people judge their levels of drunkenness and the health consequences of their drinking whilst they are intoxicated in social drinking environments. METHODS: Breath alcohol testing of 1,862 people (mean age = 26.96 years; 61.86 % male) in drinking environments. A subset (N = 400) also answered four questions asking about their perceptions of their drunkenness and the health consequences of their drinking (plus background measures). RESULTS: Perceptions of drunkenness and the health consequences of drinking were regressed on: (a) breath alcohol level, (b) the rank of the breath alcohol level amongst that of others in the same environment, and (c) covariates. Only rank of breath alcohol level predicted perceptions: How drunk they felt (b 3.78, 95 % CI 1.69 5.87), how extreme they regarded their drinking that night (b 3.7, 95 % CI 1.3 6.20), how at risk their long-term health was due to their current level of drinking (b 4.1, 95 % CI 0.2 8.0) and how likely they felt they would experience liver cirrhosis (b 4.8. 95 % CI 0.7 8.8). People were more influenced by more sober others than by more drunk others. CONCLUSION: Whilst intoxicated and in drinking environments, people base judgements regarding their drinking on how their level of intoxication ranks relative to that of others of the same gender around them, not on their actual levels of intoxication. Thus, when in the company of others who are intoxicated, drinkers were found to be more likely to underestimate their own level of drinking, drunkenness and associated risks. The implications of these results, for example that increasing the numbers of sober people in night time environments could improve subjective assessments of drunkenness, are discussed. SN - 1471-2458 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/27619969/A_rank_based_social_norms_model_of_how_people_judge_their_levels_of_drunkenness_whilst_intoxicated_ L2 - https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-016-3469-z DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -