Drinking encourages competitiveness

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DSCF1495Some of you may still remember when it was OK to go for a few lunchtime drinks (and probably doze off in the afternoon).

Times and attitudes have changed although after-work drinks with colleagues after a busy or stressful day are not uncommon.

And it can have benefits as alcohol, in moderation, can help colleagues relax and encourage open exchanges of ideas.

However experiments with groups and individuals suggest that alcohol consumption makes groups, but not individuals, more competitive.

Using the prisoner’s dilemma game (where being cooperative pays off for both parties) and dividing participants into an alcohol drinking group, a placebo group and drinking & non-drinking individuals psychologists at the University of Kent found that, after the experimenters started off the experiment in a cooperative mode:

  • Individuals showed the same level of cooperation whether they had been drinking or not
  • Non-drinking groups were as cooperative as individuals
  • Groups that had been drinking were significantly more competitive than the others
  • Drinking can also make people take more risks, become more affectionate or effect expressions of prejudice.

All good reasons to prohibit drinking during working hours I would have thought!

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