Science Can Predict If You'll Be An Angry Drunk

According to a new study, people who only think about the present are angrier drunks than people better able to consider the future. So you might want to ask your buddies about their plans for next week before getting wasted with them.

ScienceDaily reports that researchers measured how much 495 study subjects thought about the future by asking them to evaluate how much they agreed with statements like "I only act to satisfy immediate concerns, figuring the future will take care of itself." Then they gave some of them alcohol and others a placebo, and ran them through an experiment in which they were told a competitor in a game was giving them electric shocks (in reality, the researchers were shocking them). When given the opportunity to shock the offending competitor back, participants who were more focused on the present were more likely to be aggressive — especially if they were drunk. But alcohol didn't have much effect on the aggression of subjects who were more focused on the future. Study author Brad Bushman says,

People who focus on the here and now, without thinking about the impact on the future, are more aggressive than others when they are sober, but the effect is magnified greatly when they're drunk. If you carefully consider the consequences of your actions, it is unlikely getting drunk is going to make you any more aggressive than you usually are.

He also explains why this might be the case: "Alcohol has a myopic effect — it narrows your attention to what is important to you right now. That may be dangerous to someone who already has that tendency to ignore the future consequences of their actions and who is placed in a hostile situation." It makes sense that someone who doesn't plan much for the future might think it's a great idea to punch someone in the face after a few beers. We'd also like to see Bushman extend his research into the effects of other drugs. Because if present-focused people are especially aggressive when drunk, I'd really hate to see them on coke.

One Trait Has Huge Impact On Whether Alcohol Makes You Aggressive [ScienceDaily]