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Benefits of boozing outweigh harms, says survey

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Trick-cyclists in Seattle have confirmed a poorly acknowledged reality: that for many people, the benefits of drinking – even heavy drinking, on occasion – outweigh the downsides.

Psychologists at the University of Washington, conducting the study, contend that this is a matter of perception rather than reality and have dubbed the phenomenon "rose tinted beer goggles". However their survey of 500 students was quite clear: the students overall expressed the opinion that for them, the positive consequences of heavy boozing ("boosts of courage, chattiness and joke-telling abilities, improved sexual encounters and more energy to stay up late") outweighed negative ones ("blackouts, fights, hangovers, missed classes and work").

"It's as though they think that the good effects of drinking keep getting better and more likely to happen again," said Diane Logan, psychology grad student.

"Until high levels of negative consequences are experienced, participants aren't deterred by the ill effects of drinking," she adds.

The killjoy psychologists suggest that the results of their study might somehow be used to put college students or people in general off boozing.

"We should take into account how people don't think of negative consequences as all that bad or likely to happen again," Logan says, arguing that factoring in how people view alcohol's positive effects "might have a bigger impact" on drinking habits among students. If only to make them thirstier still.

Logan is lead author on the scholarly paper published by the psychologists recently in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviours. ®

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