Results from the world's largest online survey of legal and illicit drug and alcohol use revealed that just 20 per cent of participants associated spirits such as vodka, gin and rum with a feeling of calm and relaxation.
If a glass of wine puts you to sleep, but harder drinks out with friends pump you up, you're not alone. For instance, spirits are often consumed more quickly and have much higher concentrations of alcohol in them.
For example, almost one-third of hard liquor imbibers said they were more likely to feel aggressive after a shot or two, compared with 2.5 percent of red wine drinkers and just under 7 percent of beer drinkers, the findings showed. (Worth noting, though, is that "the sample is opportunistic and non-probability samples cannot be considered representative of more general population groups, as the study authors put it.) And it appears that, for each of four families of alcohol type - spirits, red wine, white wine, and beer - the type of booze you drink can push and pull on your emotions in different ways". Over half (around 59%) of respondents associated these drinks with feelings of energy and confidence. Rachel Grapes, a researcher from the University of Missouri in St. Louis said: "We were surprised that the idea of drunk people and others about how to change their behavior, so very different".
To explore links between alcohol preference and emotion, researchers in the United Kingdom made use of data collected in the Global Drug Survey-the world's largest online questionnaire about drug and alcohol use in adults.
The goal was not to prove that beer makes people groggy, or that rum turns people into rageaholics.
The research, published in the journal BMJ Open, found the different types of alcohols were associated with different emotions. It could be, for example, that people drank spirits while out dancing, which might make them feel energised, and drank red wine at home watching TV, when they were exhausted.
The researchers analysed the results, taking into account people's age, sex, country and education level. They were six times more likely to feel aggressive after drinking and also were more likely to feel exhausted or tearful.
Spirits are the least likely to elicit this type of response. Women were more likely to say they experienced any type of emotion while drinking alcohol, with the exception of aggression.
The survey results provide clear evidence that people often pick their drinks based on the mood they want to achieve, said Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y.
The researchers said the study "represents an initial exploration of alcohol's perceived relationship with emotions on an worldwide basis, across a large sample of young people".
Social norms may play a role as well. "In some cases, they may be reliant on certain drinks for these feelings", Bellis said. But they rarely chug bottles of Cabernet. Factors including where alcohol is consumed were considered as important factors.
"A lot of the sales of alcohol depend on creating [an] emotional relationship with the product", Bellis pointed out. But what if the type of alcoholic drink we choose could directly affect our emotions?