Group influence on alcohol-induced risk-taking

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Aims: The aim of the study was to examine how risk-taking behaviour is influenced by groups and alcohol consumption.

Design: An experimental alcohol administration paradigm was adopted using a between participants design.

Setting: Experimentation took place at Edge Hill University, Lancashire.

Participants: 99 social drinkers were recruited from Edge Hill University. 51 participated in the study within natural friendship groups of three. The remainder participated individually.


Medical screening and alcohol use disorder identification task (AUDIT) was completed by potential participants to assess eligibility.

Beverage Administration consisted of orange, tonic water and vodka (in the alcohol condition; 0.5g/kg males, 0.6g/kg females). The placebo was achieved by spraying a vodka mist over and on to the rim of the glass containing only orange and tonic water.

RT-18 was used to assess trait-like risk-taking.

Alcohol Urge Questionnaire (AUQ) assessed alcohol urge at baseline and post-beverage.

Visual analogue scales were used to measure mood and subjective intoxication at baseline and post beverage.

Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) and the Stoplight Task (SLT) were utilised to examine risk-taking behaviour.

Findings and conclusions: Alcohol consumption behaviour and trait-like risk-taking were controlled for in analysis.

There was no main effect of beverage on risk-taking behaviour.

A significant main effect of context revealed risk-taking was significantly higher when participants were tested within groups as opposed to those tested in isolation.

There was no interaction effect of beverage and context on risk-taking behaviour.

The results suggest that social contexts may be more influential than alcohol on risk-taking behaviour.


Professor Derek Heim, Edge Hill University Dr Rebecca Monk, Edge Hill University Dr Adam Qureshi, Edge Hill University

Awarded: First prize

Conflicts of interest:

Funding Sources: Alcohol Research UK and Edge Hill University

no conflict of interest


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Marianne Erskine-Shaw