girls relax on beach

Image by Maciej Serafinowicz.

Ever wonder why nearly all bars have background music playing? Do you ever want to enjoy a nice conversation over 1 glass of wine with your special someone but have trouble finding a drink establishment that appreciates peaceful serenity? If the establishment is an alcohol first place, you can bet that they will have music playing in the background. Because when it comes to selling alcohol, MUSIC = MONEY ($$$) and women's (or men buying for women) dollars are the target. In a recent study at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, researchers asked a very direct question: if we take a random sample of women between 18-25 and give them a vodka drink with fast music, slow music, or no music, which group of women will consume the most alcohol? Well, of course, the group that listened to the fast music will drink the most alcohol, right? Wrong.

Music makes you drink Faster

The conclusion was simpler than that. Stafford and Dodd (2013) found that the introduction of music alone increases the alcohol consumption rate in young women. It doesn't matter whether the music was slow music or fast music. Any music works to get you ordering more drinks at the bar. In the UK, large proportion of young people's total alcohol intake takes place in environments paired with music, which makes it particularly important to study the effects of music on alcohol consumption in this population, says study authors Stafford and Dodd. Therefore, it is important to find out why music is being paired with alcohol and whether the music is being used to increase alcohol consumption, or perhaps it's a coincidence.

friends drinking pub

Image by Kevin Curtis.

Music leads to a false appreciation of alcohol strength

SPOILER: It's not a coincidence. The music is like a chaser that masks the sedative effects of the alcohol through emotional arousal, Stafford and Dodd says the “music caused a mismatch between the objective [] and the perceived alcohol strength” and "led to a false appreciation of alcohol strength being lower than it actually was [] and thereby induce faster consumption." Music makes you forget how much you're drinking; thus, you won't have to worry about tasting the bitter drinks you enjoy as you are letting your hair down after a long week.

-Tristan Brenton-

See Stafford, L. D. & Dodd, H. (2013). Music increases alcohol consumption rate in young females. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 21(5), 408-415.