Objective: Existing research examining how social forces and alcohol interact to impact risky behaviours has yielded contrasting findings, possibly due to the nature and variety of risk-taking tasks used and the failure to consider the role of emotion. Using a novel risk-task, akin to real world drinking games, this study examines the effect of intoxication and group contexts on risk-taking, considering mediating effects of mood. Method: 132 social drinkers (83 female) consumed an alcoholic (0.8g/kg) or placebo beverage before participating in the shuffleboard game (designed to mimic real drinking games) either individually (N = 66) or in the presence of two friends (N = 66). Mood was assessed before and after beverage consumption. Results: When controlling for group identity, intoxication (versus placebo) was associated with significantly higher risk-taking, although there was no impact of group context. No interaction between context and intoxication was observed, and mood did not mediate this relationship. Conclusions: Intoxication increases risk-taking behaviour regardless of whether an individual is in a group, or isolated, whereas groups do not appear to enhance risky behaviour. Previous evidence of an effect of groups on risk-taking may have been due to a failure to control for the effect of group identity. To reduce risky behaviours, interventions may benefit from targeting alcohol use while considering how pre-existing social norms within a friendship group may either mitigate or exacerbate risk. Results affirm the importance of considering both intoxication and group effects on affective states when investigating risk-taking behaviours.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 3 Mar 2022|