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Pictures of booze can make you feisty

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The link between alcohol and aggression is well studied, but did you know that you don't even need to drink the stuff for it to have an effect on you? According to research to be published in Psychological Science, just looking at pictures of alcohol is enough to increase aggression.

Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia ran experiments on 246 college students, AdAge.com reports.

In one experiment, the guinea pigs were given a questionnaire to fill in, giving details of their views on alcohol, its effects and their own consumption levels.

Some were then asked to look at alcohol advertising, and others at promotion for other, neutral items. All the participants then read a story about a conflict, and were asked to judge how aggressive the protagonist was.

The group that had been checking out drinking ads was much more likely to rate the character as aggressive than those who had been mulling over pictures of cheese. The link was strongest in the group that reported seeing a connection between drinking and aggression in the survey.

In another, 121 students were asked to look at picture of either bottles of beer, weapons, or trees. Then they were shown a series of words either neutral, meaningless or related to aggression.

Again, those who had looked a beer bottles and weapons were quicker to pick out the 'aggressive' words that those who had been staring at trees.

Assistant Professor Bruce Bartholomew said that marketers needed to be aware of the connections people make between aggression and alcohol. He suggests that alcohol increases aggression at least partly because people expect it to. ®

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