Beware Of Office Parties! Alcohol Affects You More At Work Than At A Bar
Maybe it's the alcohol, maybe it's being surrounded by your co-workers, or maybe it just feels like the right time to cut loose. For whatever reason, it seems workers really do let it all hang out at office parties.
A new study suggests, however, that it is has more to do with where drinks are consumed than other factors.
Drinking in environments not traditionally associated with alcohol leaves workers far less able to control their behavior, say researchers at the school of psychology at the University of Birmingham in the U.K., according to a report in London's Daily Mail.
Alcohol does lower inhibitions, but the brain learns to compensate over time as it becomes more familiar with the environment where drinks are consumed -- such as the local bar.
By contrast, workplaces traditionally are sober and focused settings. The brain therefore might not tolerate the alcohol as well there, leading some office partygoers to be less in control than they otherwise might be.
"When you drink in the pub, we generally have experience of that and have learned to build tolerance," says Suzanne Higgs, who led the university study.
"As you don't normally drink alcohol at work," she tells the newspaper, "you haven't had the chance to build this tolerance."
To gauge the effects of alcohol in the workplace and levels of worker inhibition, researchers asked study participants to perform tasks on a computer in rooms that were distinctly different. They were given a drink beforehand, which may have contained alcohol.
Over time, the Mail reports, those volunteers drinking alcohol developed a tolerance to its ability to make them less inhibited.
However, those participants who were later given alcohol in the room they had associated with non-alcoholic drinks were less inhibited.
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.
Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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