Drinking Alcohol Does Not Change Your Personality

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When you are drunk, your personality may change, but not as much as you think, a study shows. The findings revealed that people typically report substantive changes to their personality when they become intoxicated, but observers perceive less differences between their ‘sober’ and ‘drunk’ personalities.

“We were surprised to find such a discrepancy between drinkers’ perceptions of their own alcohol-induced personalities and how observers perceived them,” said Rachel Winograd, psychological scientist at the University of Missouri.

In the study, published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, 156 participants completed a survey gauging their typical alcohol consumption and their perceptions of their own “typical sober” personality and “typical drunk” personality.

After drinking, participants reported lower levels of conscientiousness, openness to experience, and agreeableness, and they reported higher levels of extraversion and emotional stability (the inverse of neuroticism).

But, the observers noted fewer differences across the sober and intoxicated participants’ personality traits. In fact, observer ratings indicated reliable differences in only one personality factor: extraversion. They rated the drunk participants on three facets of extraversion: gregariousness, assertiveness, and levels of activity.

According to the researchers, the higher levels of extraversion may come down to inherent differences in point of view. “We believe both the participants and raters were both accurate and inaccurate — the raters reliably reported what was visible to them and the participants experienced internal changes that were real to them but imperceptible to observers,” Winograd explained.