August 12, 2008

Music Makes Us Lose Control?

Print More needs to add a new section because music has now been linked to alcohol intake. Results from a new study show that bar-going, loud-music-listening drinkers could be more likely to hug the toilet the next morning. Research done on the effect of music and alcohol consumption found that loud music leads to more alcohol consumption in less time.

Nicolas Guéguen, professor of Behavioral Sciences, at the Université de Bretagne-Sud in France led the study that observed forty 18-25 year-old males at two different bars in Western France. The results are currently in press and will be published in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The study took place over the course of three Saturday nights. The observed subjects were males who ordered draft beer (eight ounces). The researchers manipulated the music level before choosing a subject and the subjects were unaware that they were being observed. All music played was Top 40 and the volume level varied from 72 decibels (considered normal) to 88 decibels (considered high).

Results show that as the music level was increased, the average number of drinks ordered by the subject increased from 2.6 drinks to 3.4 drinks, and the average amount of time taken to consume the alcohol decreased from 14.51 minutes to 11.45 minutes.

Guéguen proposes two hypotheses as to why this could be. The first is that “high sound levels may have caused higher arousal, which led the subjects to drink faster and to order more drinks.” The second states, “loud music may have had a negative effect on social interaction in the bar, so that patrons drank more because they talked less.”

With a reported 1,700 college students dying from alcohol related incidents (according to, maybe it’s for the best to keep the music at a reasonable level. Turning the volume down not only can save us from a severe hangover the next morning, but it can also help prevent hearing impairment down the road.