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Do emotions related to alcohol consumption differ by alcohol type? An international cross-sectional survey of emotions associated with alcohol consumption and influence on drink choice in different settings
  1. Kathryn Ashton1,
  2. Mark A Bellis1,
  3. Alisha R Davies1,
  4. Karen Hughes1,
  5. Adam Winstock2
  1. 1 Policy, Research and International Development, Public Health Wales NHS Trust, Cardiff, Wales
  2. 2 Department of Psychiatry, Psychiatry and Neuroscience, King’s College London, Addiction Sciences Building, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Kathryn Ashton; kathryn.ashton{at}


Objectives To examine the emotions associated with drinking different types of alcohol, explore whether these emotions differ by sociodemographics and alcohol dependency and whether the emotions associated with different drink types influence people’s choice of drinks in different settings.

Design International cross-sectional opportunistic survey (Global Drug Survey) using an online anonymous questionnaire in 11 languages promoted through newspapers, magazines and social media from November 2015 to January 2016.

Study population Individuals aged 18–34 years who reported consumption of beer, spirits, red and white wine in the previous 12 months and were resident in countries with more than 200 respondents (n=21 countries; 29 836 respondents).

Main outcome measures Positive and negative emotions associated with consumption of different alcoholic beverages (energised, relaxed, sexy, confident, tired, aggressive, ill, restless and tearful) over the past 12 months in different settings.

Results Alcoholic beverages vary in the types of emotions individuals report they elicit, with spirits more frequently eliciting emotional changes of all types. Overall 29.8% of respondents reported feeling aggressive when drinking spirits, compared with only 7.1% when drinking red wine (p<0.001). Women more frequently reported feeling all emotions when drinking alcohol, apart from feelings of aggression. Respondents’ level of alcohol dependency was strongly associated with feeling all emotions, with the likelihood of aggression being significantly higher in possible dependent versus low risk drinkers (adjusted OR 6.4; 95% CI 5.79 to 7.09; p<0.001). The odds of feeling the majority of positive and negative emotions also remained highest among dependent drinkers irrespective of setting.

Conclusion Understanding emotions associated with alcohol consumption is imperative to addressing alcohol misuse, providing insight into what emotions influence drink choice between different groups in the population. The differences identified between sociodemographic groups and influences on drink choice within different settings will aid future public health practice to further comprehend individuals’ drinking patterns and influence behaviour change.

  • substance misuse
  • public health

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors AW developed and directed the survey. MAB conceived and designed the survey questions on alcohol. AW coordinated data collection and KA carried out data cleaning on the alcohol data. KA performed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. All authors drafted, edited and approved the final manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data sharing available.

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