The Smell Of Alcohol Alone Can Make You Act Drunk, According To A Study
The psychological inhibitions that come with drinking alcohol might not be the only reason you act recklessly when you're drunk.
According to Medical Daily, a new study conducted at England's Edge Hill University found just the smell of alcohol makes it harder for people to control certain urges.
For the study, researchers recruited 40 participants who were split into two groups.
One group wore face masks laced with alcohol, and the other wore face masks laced with a non-alcoholic citrus solution, UPI reports.
All participants played a computer game in which they were told to press a specific button whenever the letter "K" or a picture of a beer bottle appeared on the screen.
On several occasions, participants mistakenly pressed the button when neither image was presented, committing what researchers called "false alarms."
The group wearing masks laced with alcohol, however, made this mistake many more times than the second group.
In a statement, psychology lecturer and study author Dr. Rebecca Monk said,
We know that alcohol behaviors are shaped by our environment including who we're with and the settings in which we drink. This research is a first attempt to explore other triggers, such as smell, that may interfere with people's ability to refrain from a particular behavior. For example, during the experiment it seemed that just the smell of alcohol was making it harder for participants to control their behavior to stop pressing a button.
The results suggest the smell of alcohol could cause one to give in to binge-drinking, as well as perform other reckless behaviors such as eating greasy food or using recreational drugs.
The researchers wrote,
Overall, this research offers an original insight into the importance of acknowledging olfactory alcohol cues in developing a comprehensive understanding of alcohol-related behavior. Context-related reductions in inhibitory control may lead to increases in consumption, or to relapse in abstinent users.
Study author and professor Derek Heim noted these results must be "replicated in real world settings" before they can be confirmed as valid.
He said the underlying goal of this research is to improve intervention or rehabilitation strategies for those trying to overcome substance abuse.
This study was originally published in the journal Psychopharmacology.