Drinking in social groups. Does 'groupdrink' provide safety in numbers when deciding about risk

Tim Hopthrow, Georgina Randsley de Moura, Rose Meleady, Dominic Abrams, Hannah Swift

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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To investigate the impact of alcohol consumption on risk decisions taken both individually and while part of a 4-6 person ad-hoc group.

2 (Alcohol: consuming vs. not consuming alcohol) x 2 (Decision: individual, group) mixed model design, Decision was a repeated measure. The dependent variable was risk preference, measured using choice dilemmas.

Opportunity sampling in campus bars and a music event at a campus-based university in the United Kingdom.

(N = 101) were recruited from groups of 4 to 6 people who either were or were not consuming alcohol.

Participants privately opted for a level of risk in response to a choice dilemma and then, as a group, responded to a second choice dilemma. The choice dilemmas asked participants the level of accident risk at which they would recommend someone could drive while intoxicated.

Five 3-level multilevel models were specified in the software program HLM 7. Decisions made in groups were less risky than those made individually (B = -0.73, p < .001). Individual alcohol consumers opted for higher risk than non-consumers (B = 1.27, p = .025). A significant alcohol by decision interaction (B = -2.79, p = .001), showed that individual consumers privately opted for higher risk than non-consumers whereas risk judgments made in groups of either consumers or non-consumers were lower. Decisions made by groups of consumers were less risky than those made by groups of non-consumers (B = 1.23, p < .001).

Moderate alcohol consumption appears to produce a propensity among individuals towards increased risk taking in deciding to drive while intoxicated, which can be mitigated by group monitoring processes within small (4-6 person) groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913–921
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Early online date5 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • Alcohol
  • decision making
  • field study
  • groups
  • group processes
  • multi-level model
  • risk
  • social drinking

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