Beer, alcohol, and empathy: an experimental study in men and women

Marije aan het Rot, Associate Professor, University of Groningen, Psychology Department, Groningen, The Netherlands

Background and motivation: 
Drinking alcohol is associated with various interpersonal effects. However, many past experimental studies have focused on negative social behaviour (i.e., aggression), been limited to male participants, and compared a hard-liquor mix to its non-alcoholic equivalent. Results of a recent study in our group suggest that a moderate hard-liquor dose (0.56 g alcohol/kg bodyweight) may reduce empathic accuracy in men. However, effects in women, of other types of drinks, and on other components of empathy remain to be elucidated. Most importantly, reduced empathic accuracy may result in less empathic behaviour, but also in more empathic behaviour. This is why I propose to compare, in men and women, the acute effects of drinking beer on multiple components of empathy. 

Objective:

  1. To examine how alcohol (in beer) affects empathic accuracy and empathic behaviour
  2. To assess how alcohol’s effects on empathy vary in male vs. female social drinkers