Which drinks make adults happy, angry, relaxed or sad? Adolescents perceive how different drinks make adults feel in new study

A new study from the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR) at La Trobe University has found that young adolescents perceive that beer makes people happy or angry, champagne relaxes women, and white wine is for drinking when adults are sad.

While previous studies have used long questionnaires that can be challenging for young people, this study used the ‘Alcohol Expectancy Task’ developed by CAPR’s Emmanuel Kuntsche and Sandra Kuntsche. The task was completed on tablets, where the 283 participants from Switzerland aged 9 to 12 were shown illustrations featuring 16 individuals in various everyday contexts and emotional states (happy, angry, relaxed, sad). The young people were asked to touch the picture of the beverage they thought the person in the illustration has been drinking.

The study found that of the 12 possible drinks (four alcoholic, eight non-alcoholic) the participants were most likely to assign beer to the pictures of the individuals, especially those that looked happy or angry. For the pictures of individuals that looked relaxed, champagne was most often assigned to women, and beer most often assigned to men.  Young adolescents predominantly assigned white wine to people looking.

Lead researcher Megan Cook said, “The results show that young adolescents who have minimal drinking experience themselves still hold nuanced understanding of how different alcohol affects adults differently.”
“Our research indicates more work should be done to understand how the expectations children and young adolescents have about alcohol develop through childhood,” she said.

The study, ‘Do different drinks make you feel different emotions? Examination of young adolescents’ beverage-specific alcohol expectancies using the Alcohol Expectancy Task’ is now available in the Addictive Behaviours journal online, and will be published in the journal in July.

Media enquires – Susanne Newton, S.Newton2@latrobe.edu.au or 03 9479 5693