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Turn Up The Volume - Increase the Hangover?

posted 10:42 AM EST, Sat July 19, 2008
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Turn Up The Volume - Increase the Hangover? © Photo: Nevalenx

French researchers staked out local bars to see what effect turning up the volume might have on drinking behavior.

Free will?

French researchers say that we are controlled more than we might think by external and manipulated variables – like the volume of music in a bar, and that louder music will cause us unknowingly to drink more and more quickly.

Nicolas Gueguen, of The University of Southern Brittany led the study which was published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. During the study, university researchers observed the drinking habits of people at 2 local bars, and recorded how many beers they ordered, and noted exactly how many minutes it took them to finish a drink. They recorded their findings firstly while background music was played at a normal 72 decibels, and compared that with when music played at a significantly louder 88 decibels.

The Results

Turning the music up caused the average number of drinks consumed to rise from 2.6 to 3.4 per customer. Louder music also caused patrons to drink faster, 1 drink taking 14.51 minutes under normal conditions, and 11.45 minutes with louder music.

The researchers say that the small study size precludes them from drawing any statistically significant conclusions, but they suspect that louder music influences our drinking in 2 ways. Firstly, the louder music increases arousal levels in the brain – which like faster music, increases the speed at which we drink.

Secondly, they speculate that louder music just makes it a bit tougher to converse, leaving more time free for drinking.

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