"I'm fiiiine!" you say, "I can have another one no problem!" You stumble to the bar. By your estimates, you should be able to take another five mojitos before you reach your limit. Unfortunately, as you discover when you end up making friends with a shrub in People's Square, you were way off the mark.
Sound familiar anyone?
Turns out we're terrible at judging how drunk we are.
A recent study from the University of Cardiff found that drinkers tend to base their level of intoxication relative to the people around them, and not by how much they actually had to drink. In short, as long as you can find someone who looks drunker than you, you assume you're fine to keep on going.
In the study, researchers breathalyzed more than 1,800 people over a number of weekends and asked follow-up questions of about 400 participants. The underestimations of drunkenness were alarming. In many cases, drinkers who rated themselves as “moderately at risk” were well over the legal limit for drunk driving and were much more intoxicated than they believed.
Surprisingly, researchers found that this misjudgement works both ways.
It's just as easy for people to overestimate their level of intoxication. Drinkers who were almost sober believed themselves to be much more drunk than they actually were when surrounded by more intoxicated peers. We call it the "OMG-Bud-Lite-is-too-strong-I'm-wasted' effect.
What can you learn from this? Well… Smart drinking starts by making smart choices when it comes to your drinking buddies!
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