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The shuffleboard game: investigating group drinking, mood, and risky behavior

Erskine-Shaw, Marianne ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6493-5855, Monk, Rebecca Louise, Qureshi, Adam Werner, Richardson, Mia, Pearson, Lynsey and Heim, Derek (2022) The shuffleboard game: investigating group drinking, mood, and risky behavior. Group Dynamics: theory, research, and practice. ISSN 1089-2699

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Abstract

Objective: Existing research examining how social forces and alcohol interact to impact risky behaviors has yielded contrasting findings, possibly due to the nature and variety of risk-taking tasks used and the failure to consider the role of emotion. Using a novel risk task, akin to real-world drinking games, this study examines the effect of intoxication and group contexts on risk-taking, considering mediating effects of mood. Method: One hundred thirty-two social drinkers (83 females) consumed an alcoholic (0.8 g/kg) or placebo beverage before participating in the shuffleboard game (designed to mimic real drinking games) either individually (N = 66) or in the presence of two friends (N = 66). Mood was assessed before and after beverage consumption. Results: When controlling for group identity, intoxication (vs. placebo) was associated with significantly higher risk-taking, although there was no impact of group context. No interaction between context and intoxication was observed, and mood did not mediate this relationship. Conclusions: Intoxication increases risk-taking behavior regardless of whether an individual is in a group, or isolated, whereas groups do not appear to enhance risky behavior. Previous evidence of an effect of groups on risk-taking may have been due to a failure to control for the effect of group identity. To reduce risky behaviors, interventions may benefit from targeting alcohol use while considering how preexisting social norms within a friendship group may either mitigate or exacerbate risk. Results affirm the importance of considering both intoxication and group effects on affective states when investigating risk-taking behaviors.

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