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Getting drunk changes your personality but not as much as might you think

Some people report that they become a “different person” when drunk, but scientists disagree and a recent study from Missouri’s Institute of Health shows that while alcohol can make us more chatty, it does not alert much our personalities.

An experimental study from Missouri’s Institute of Health set about to verify common stereotypes about the existence of “sober” and “drunk” personalities. The researchers made participants evaluate their personalities beforehand and in laboratory conditions, invited them to get drunk. The study was published in Clinical Psychological Science.

For their evaluation before and after the drinking sessions, scientists used the Five Factor Model of personality evaluating the participants’ openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.


What they found after the experience was a big difference between drinkers’ perceptions of their own alcohol-induced personalities and how observers perceived them.

Psychological scientist Rachel Winograd of the University of Missouri, leader of the study, said in an Association for Psychological Science article that this discrepancy may come down to inherent differences in point of view.

“We believe both the participants and raters were both accurate and inaccurate — the raters reliably reported what was visible to them and the participants experienced internal changes that were real to them but imperceptible to observers,” she explains.

So what did participants report after having a few tailor-made vodka and Sprite drinks? Most of them said that all five of the major personality factors have changed. Those that consumed alcohol reported lower levels of conscientiousness, openness to experience, and agreeableness, and they reported higher levels of extraversion and emotional stability (the inverse of neuroticism).

But observers reported fewer differences, with one notable exception. Drinking impacted extraversion. Specifically, participants who had consumed alcohol were rated higher on three facets of extraversion: gregariousness, assertiveness, and levels of activity.

The researchers also argue that extraversion is also the most easily observable of the five major personality factors. Moreover, there could be other factors that influence a person’s perception and that may have contributed to the discrepancy in ratings.

“Of course, we also would love to see these findings replicated outside of the lab — in bars, at parties, and in homes where people actually do their drinking,” says Winograd. “Most importantly, we need to see how this work is most relevant in the clinical realm and can be effectively included in interventions to help reduce any negative impact of alcohol on peoples’ lives,” she concludes.


In 2015, Rachel Winograd conducted another study on how drinking affects personality and made headlines after it outlined that there were four types of student drinkers, named Hemingways, Nutty Professors, Mary Poppinses and Mr. Hydes.

For Hamingways, Winograd found that drinking had less effect on their intellect and conscientiousness. Those dubbed Nutty Professors were introverted when sober but highly extroverted and unconscientious when drunk. They also experienced the greatest overall personality shifts. Mary Poppinses were the ones that are very pleasant and harmonious sober and drunk; in all, they experience the slightest alcohol-related change. Mr. Hyde type of personalities are the ones experiencing the larger decreases in agreeableness, conscientiousness, and intellect after alcohol consumption.

Sylvia Jacob