When nursing a hangover it’s not unusual to vow to never allow alcohol to pass your lips again. Yet weeks – perhaps even days – later social drinkers find themselves in the same situation.
Now scientists think they have found out why so many of us display this counterproductive behavior.
It turns out that we are far more likely to remember the positive effects of the experience, such as feeling less inhibited, and downplay any next-morning nausea or ‘regrettable sexual situations.’
To reach their findings, psychologists at the University of Washington asked 500 college students to complete an online survey that measured their drinking habits the previous year.
The survey assessed how often the participants had experienced 35 different negative consequences of drinking, such as blackouts, fights, hangovers, and lost or stolen belongings.
They also reported on 14 positive effects, including better conversational and joke-telling abilities and more energy to stay up late partying.
The researchers also measured the participants’ beliefs about how likely all of these drinking consequences would happen again and how positive or negative they were.
They found participants rated the upsides to drinking as more positive and likely to happen in the future, a finding the researchers call ‘rose-colored beer goggles.’
‘It’s as though they think that the good effects of drinking keep getting better and more likely to happen again,’ said lead author and graduate Diane Logan.
Co-author and assistant professor Kevin King, added: ‘This study suggests why some people can experience a lot of bad consequences of drinking but not change their behavior.