You may want to file this under news you don't want to acknowledge to be true, but according a recent study published in Clinical Psychological Science, the drunk you might be the "real" you. That's right: the crying, screaming, erratically laughing "wooo" girl (or boy) might not be that far removed from the sober model. The belief that we become different people when we drink is deeply entrenched in our society, and whether you believe liquid courage will turn you into a relaxed and confident go getter or an overly-emotional, melancholy wreck, we generally feel some transformation take place. In the new study, researchers out of the University of Missouri found that outside observers rarely clocked significant changes in the drunk subjects' personalities; so there goes all my dating tactics!
To test the concept of a "drunk personality," lead author Rachel Winograd, a psychological scientist at the University of Missouri and colleagues gathered 156 participants and asked them to complete a survey describing their "typical sober" personality and "typical drunk" personality, as well as their average alcohol consumption. After completing the survey, participants were split into groups of same-sex friends and returned to the lab where some enjoyed a soda while others got to toss back a few vodka and Sprite cocktails (quite the summer drink, no?). To ensure tipsiness, participants had to attain a blood alcohol content of approximately .09. Such hard work.
After a 15-minute absorption period, the participants and their friends played games and completed puzzles designed to bring out a range of personality traits and expressions. Twice during the lab participants were asked to pause and rate their personality. The sessions were also filmed so outside observers could assess the behavior of both the sober and drunk participants.
Participants rated themselves on the Big-5 scale of personality factors, measuring conscientiousness, openness to experience, agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism. Unsurprisingly, the drunk participants reported a change in all five personality traits, including lower levels of consciousness, as well as feelings of heightened agreeability and openness to experience. Once tipsy, they also felt more extroverted and emotionally stable. The observers, however, did not notice great differences in the drunk and sober participants' behavior. The two groups only noticeably differed in their levels of extroversion — the drunk game-players seeming happier, more outgoing and more active.
"We were surprised to find such a discrepancy between drinkers' perceptions of their own alcohol-induced personalities and how observers perceived them," Rachel Winograd noted in a press release. "Participants reported experiencing differences in all factors of the Five Factor Model of personality, but extraversion was the only factor robustly perceived to be different across participants in alcohol and sober conditions." So, there you have it — a drink or two will make you a bit peppier, but it won't completely change your personality. Next time you have the urge to "Wooo" just "Wooo" and be proud!