You probably know the feeling of waking up, with headache and dizziness, struggling to remember what happened after that extra drink last night. Then the memories all come in a sudden, and you start to regret.
Alcohol disinhibits us, making us say and do things that we normally don’t do. You may have seen someone expressed love to another after drinking, or you may have experienced it yourself. You may know a friend who is always being very aggressive and ends the party up with a fight after drinking.
Indeed, alcohol has a depressant effect which makes us feel more relaxed. But of course it’s not all positive. Some people are “happy drunks”, while others are “aggressive drunks”.
Lots of articles have documented the relationship between alcohol and antisocial behavior, and it was believed that people tend to misinterpret social situations and lose their sense of empathy when drunk, which may lead to a mess.
However, a recent study reveals that things may not be like that.
How you change when drunk
People usually use alcohol as an excuse when they have done something wrong while under the influence of alcohol. But in a recent research which intended to paint a clearer picture of how drinking alcohol, empathy, and moral behavior are related, researchers discovered that consuming alcohol does not seem to influence your moral standards.
According to one of the researchers, “the conclusion is that while consuming alcohol might affect our empathy, making us respond inappropriately to other people’s emotions and reactions, this doesn't necessary change our moral standards, or the principles we use to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong.”
How the experiment went
Researchers gave participants shots of vodka and then measured their empathy and moral decisions by presenting them images showing various people expressing emotions.
After having a higher dose of vodka, people began to respond inappropriately to the emotional displays, reporting that they felt positively about sad faces and negatively about happy faces. The more alcohol they consume, the more impaired their empathy became.
The first conclusion came out that drinks weakened people’s abilities to understand and share the emotions of others.
For morality, researchers asked participants for their thoughts under certain moral dilemmas given to them and observed what they actually did in a simulation of a moral dilemma in Virtual Reality.
The result was that, while alcohol might have impaired the empathy of the participants, it didn’t have an effect on how they judged the moral situations or how they acted in them. They would do the same thing whether they got drunk or not.
“It turns out that while we might believe that alcohol changes our personalities, it doesn’t. You are still the same person after a drink – your existing sense of morality left intact. So while alcohol might affect how we interpret and understand the emotions of other people, we can’t blame out immoral behaviors on alcohol.” Said one of the researchers.