Small grants: how does environment shape drinking behaviour?

Three new Small Grant reports have been published recently on our website. Each tackle important questions around the relationship between drinking environments and alcohol consumption. They can all be viewed on our Publications page.

DrinksOne report looks at how live entertainment operates in drinking venues as a way of regulating alcohol consumption.  While both performers and audiences may think of live entertainment as distinct from the business of selling alcohol, this report shows the extent to which musicians, comedians, DJs and other entertainers often play a key role in attracting customers, encouraging bar purchases and, where necessary, influencing behaviour.

Two further reports use lab experiments to examine the role of visual and cognitive cues on drinking behaviour.  In one case, the research team show the extent to which bar environments combine with alcohol consumption to change how we pay attention to visual cues. Because such responses are linked to our ability to inhibit behaviour they play a key role in shaping drinking patterns.

A second report considers how what we expect to happen to us when we consume alcohol shapes our actual behaviour after we have had a drink (or, indeed, a non-alcoholic placebo).  Again, this has implications for how we control – or choose not to control – our consumption in drinking environments.

All three reports serve as a reminder that the way we behave when drinking, or when in environments associated with drink, is about much more than the physiological effects of alcohol.  Our behaviours are framed and influenced by our responses to environmental cues – whether they are visual triggers, music, or the behaviour of those around us – as well as our own beliefs about what alcohol does.  They make the important point that alcohol-related behaviour is a complex social and cultural phenomenon, and that we are still a long way from fully understanding all the factors that shape who we are, or who we become, when we drink.