Drinking and personality has not much been a topic of research. Though there are different classifications for personality types such as Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), ABCD Personality types, etc. The most commonly expended personality types are the introverts and the extroverts. Introverts are quiet people preferring solitude, and extroverts are outgoing and sociable people preferring to be in the midst of group always. Personality traits have been studied to be applied in job roles, career development and even love or dating relationships. Not limited to that personality traits have also been studied to examine its correlation to depression, happiness, loneliness, and narcissism. However, it is interesting to find that personality trait has a correlation to drinking attitudes.
A study by Singh and Kumar (2016) found that introverts have a positive attitude towards drinking alcohol whereas extroverts have a negative attitude towards drinking alcohol. Since introverts like to be alone, they prefer to have a drink when they are happy and usually have in small amounts. Introverts are not big drinkers but they may drink a glass or two to give them a good kick. They are not risk takers and eventually do not get themselves drunk (Dembling, 2012). On the other hand, extroverts who like to be around people all the time, tend to feel lonely when they are alone. They easily resort to drinking alcohol to overcome boredom, loneliness, and sadness. This causes them to easily fall prey to heavy drinking. Drinking can be a coping mechanism for extroverts. Extroverts also engage in binge drinking in social contexts such parties, clubs, and bars as it gives them mood enhancement (Fairbairn et al., 2015).
When does a person resort to drinking alcohol matters. If an individual tends to drink when he or she is happy then the individual tends to hold a positive perspective towards drinking and is often a social drinker either alone or with friends in a social context. However, if an individual tends to drink alcohol when he or she is sad, then the individual perceives drinking as a coping mechanism and hence resorts to heavy drinking.
A research by Winograd and colleagues (2017) was conducted to find if drinking alcohol changes the personality of individuals and found that there were no discrepancies. There was no observance of drunk personality vs. sober personality. However, the researchers noted that findings of the study would be ideal if replicated outside the lab namely in bars, parties and at homes where drinking happens. The only reliable difference found in the study was with respect to change in one personality trait namely extraversion. It was observed that participants were high on gregariousness, assertiveness and levels of activity (Winograd et al, 2017). The study clearly demonstrated that alcohol influence does not change personality types. However, the purpose of the study was to identify personality changes (whether sober or drunk) after alcohol consumption which would help in determining interventions to reduce negative impact of alcohol on people’s lives (Winograd et al, 2017).
Knowing people’s attitude towards drinking may perhaps help in understanding whether people use drinking as a coping mechanism or as a social drink at parties, gatherings, etc. It may also help in comprehending when heavy drinking becomes a potential health or social problem; and if personalities play a role in it? Perhaps this calls for more research in this area.
Fairbairn, C.E. et al (2015). Extraversion and the Rewarding Effects of Alcohol in a Social Context. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 124(3): 660-673
Dembling, S. (2012). The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World. New York: Penguin Group
Singh, T.K. & Kumar, N. (2016). Depression: Personality and Gender towards Alcohol Drinking Attitude. The International Journal of Indian Psychology, Vol.3, Is. 2, No.3.
Winograd, R.P. et al. (2017). An Experimental Investigation of Drunk Personality Using Self and Observer Reports. Clinical Psychological Science, Vol.5, Issue. 3.