Allocating under the influence: Effects of alcohol intoxication and social identification on in-group favouritism

Jin Zhou, Derek Heim, Rebecca Monk, Andy Levy, Paul Pollard

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The ‘social lubrication’ function of alcohol during interpersonal interactions is well documented. However, less is known about the effects of alcohol consumption on group-level behaviour. Empirical findings from social psychological literature suggest that individuals tend to favour those who are considered as members of their own social group. Not yet evaluated is how alcohol intoxication interacts with this group-level bias. Therefore, the current study examined experimentally the effects of intoxication on group bias. Ninety-four individuals (Mage = 20.18, SD = 2.36, female = 55) were randomly assigned to consume an alcoholic (n = 48) or a placebo (n = 46) drink before completing manipulated allocation matrices, a task which measured the distribution of hypothetical monetary awards based on social groups. Results point to an interaction between drink condition and social identification, whereby social identification was significantly associated with in-group favouritism among intoxicated individuals only. Following alcohol consumption, participants with higher identification with their social group were more likely to demonstrate allocation strategies that favoured their own group members. However, non-significant effects were observed for those in the placebo condition. The findings highlight how alcohol intoxication may facilitate group bias that results from social group identification
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-277
JournalExperimental & Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jan 2018


  • alcohol intoxication
  • social identification
  • in-group favouritism
  • group bias

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