January: a desolate, barren landscape of a month that could only be made worse by the decision to stop drinking, thus removing the premier method of numbing your senses and making everything better, if only temporarily.
And yet we still subject ourselves to Dry January. Well, screw you Dry January and screw you, in fact, anyone who doesn’t love the great British pub, because science has come along and told us that not only is going to be boozer a whole load of fun, it’s also good for you. Scientifically.
New research by academics at Oxford University, published in the journnal Adaptive Human Behaviour and Psychology has ‘discovered’ that people who drink regularly at their local pub are happier, more satisfied with their lives, and have more friends.
Professor Robin Dunbar of the University of Oxford’s Experimental Psychology department, said “This study showed that frequenting a local pub can directly affect peoples’ social network size and how engaged they are with their local community, which in turn can affect how satisfied they feel in life”.
And, pray tell, how exactly does this happen?
Well, put simply, consuming alcohol triggers endorphins which assist in social bonding; adding this in with the ‘community’ effects of pubs means that you’re on to a winner.
Strong friendships “provide us with the single most important buffer against mental and physical illness”, said Professor Dunbar. “While pubs traditionally have a role as a place for community socialising, alcohol’s role appears to be in triggering the endorphin system, which promotes social bonding.”
He added: “Like other complex bonding systems such as dancing, singing and storytelling, [going to the pub] has often been adopted by large social communities as a ritual associated with bonding.”
Researchers combined data from three separate studies to examine whether the frequency of alcohol consumption or the type of venue had an impact on peoples’ wellbeing and social experiences.
They discovered that people with a “local” that they visited regularly felt more socially engaged and contented, and were more likely to trust others in their community. Those who regularly drank at a nearby pub also tended to be more popular: they had an average of almost eight close friends, compared to six for non-drinkers. The study also found that people in local pubs tended to have “whole-group conversations” more than those who drank in city-centre bars, because people usually visit their local in smaller groups.
Honestly Prof, if you’d joined us down the Dog and Duck, we could have told you all this ourselves over a few pints.