Alcohol and energy drinks have become a popular combination among drinkers, especially those in college. The common belief is that energy drinks help mask the alcohol, making the drinker feel more alert and not as intoxicated. However, a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, shows that energy drinks actually act as a placebo, causing the person to feel more intoxicated than they really are.
This is an important discovery because it sheds light on what is really happening at bars, parties and clubs all over the world. People are consuming drinks that, psychologically, make them feel more drunk than they really are, and this has an impact on their behavior, decision-making, and psychological state.
The study, which focused 154 young men, relied on questionnaires filled out before, during and after consuming alcohol beverages. The participants were either given a glass that said: Red Bull and vodka, vodka cocktail or fruit juice cocktail. And while the participants thought these were different drinks, the researchers had actually made all the drinks the same. However, the men who thought they were drinking vodka and Red Bull reported feeling more intoxicated, daring and sexually self-confident. This was especially true for those men that had stated that energy drinks make someone more intoxicated.
In the end, the men who consumed the drinks that were labeled with Red Bull and Vodka reported an increased intoxication level of 51% over those that consumed beverages in glasses marked with other ingredients.
“Beliefs that people have about a product can be just as important as the ingredients of the product itself. Regulations and codes of conduct should consider the psychological – and not just physiological – effects of products,” explained the authors of the study.