You likely already know from real-life experiences that alcohol can have significantly different effects on a person’s personality. And in fact, there is scientific evidence to support the existence of “types of drunks,” as shown in a study published in the journal Addiction Research and Theory.
Researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia enrolled 187 undergraduate participants who reported having a drinking companion who is familiar with their behavior when both sober and drunk. These participants were asked to complete identical surveys that assessed their drinking frequency, alcohol-related consequences, and personality traits when sober and drunk. The researchers then categorized them into different subgroups, or “types of drunks,” based on the five-factor method used by psychologists to determine personality traits, which include neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.
It turns out that there are four distinct drunk personality types that coincidentally align with some well-known names from your childhood: Hemingway, Mary Poppins, Mr. Hyde, and the Nutty Professor. Let’s take a closer look at each type and their defining characteristics to see where you and your friends fit in.
The 4 Types of Drunks
The Hemingways are those friends who can consume alcohol without showing any noticeable changes, much like Ernest Hemingway himself. Members of this group reported only minor alterations in their personality when intoxicated. Their conscientiousness, which includes traits like being prepared, organized, or punctual, and their intellect, including understanding abstract concepts and being imaginative, were less affected compared to the other participants.
Interestingly, the Hemingways were the largest group among the participants. The researchers suggest that this type of drunk represents the majority of drinkers who do not undergo significant character changes or experience alcohol-related consequences.
The Mary Poppins
Similar to the beloved and cheerful nanny, the Mary Poppins group consisted of a small percentage (14 percent) of drinkers who are highly agreeable when sober. These individuals are known to be the friendliest and most cooperative people in their social circle. When intoxicated, this group showed a smaller decrease in conscientiousness and intellect and a greater increase in extraversion compared to the other types. In other words, the Mary Poppins group captures the responsible and pleasant drinkers who encounter fewer alcohol-related issues.
The Mr. Hydes
The Mr. Hydes resemble Dr. Jekyll’s evil alter-ego and experienced the most negative transformation when under the influence of alcohol. Members of this group reported a decrease in conscientiousness and intellect and a smaller increase in extraversion compared to the other participants. They also exhibited a tendency to be less responsible, less intellectual, and more hostile than when they are sober. The study concludes that this type of drunk tends to show characteristics similar to the dark and hostile Mr. Hyde.
Overall, this study provides valuable insights into the different types of drunks and how alcohol can affect their personalities.
The Eccentric Professors
This group — referred to as the eccentric professors after the character portrayed by Eddy Murphy who undergoes a chemical transformation into the more self-assured and outgoing “Buddy Love” — exhibited a particularly introverted nature when sober, but experienced a significant increase in extraversion when intoxicated, along with a decrease in conscientiousness. Members of this group displayed the greatest contrast between their sober and drunk characteristics, yet still fell within the range of making healthy decisions (i.e. no memory loss or texting exes while drunk). This refers to your reserved friend who becomes the life of the gathering after consuming a few alcoholic beverages.
It’s difficult to deny the anecdotal truth behind the study. Nevertheless, the authors of the research do acknowledge several limitations. For instance, the categorization of “drunk types” was based on self-reported data and on typical inebriated experiences, which prevented researchers from examining personality differences in various drunk scenarios. Additionally, it is worth noting that the sample group primarily consisted of White, American university students, making it challenging to generalize the findings. Therefore, the authors caution against extending or applying these findings beyond the specific population of college-aged drinkers that were included in the study.
Nonetheless, this should spark an interesting conversation during your next happy hour, especially as you witness your friends transforming into their intoxicated alter egos.
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