Ever wake up after a night out wondering how you managed to get so drunk, when you're sure you were on best behaviour all evening?
At least, compared to your mates, you were. You didn't touch those Jello shots and stayed well away from the bottle of supermarket red being passed around at the afterparty.
Well, science may now have the answer to your mystery drunken behaviour.
New research published today in the BioMed Central Public Health journal suggests we base our level of intoxication on how wasted the people around us are, rather than the amount of alcohol we've actually consumed.
Researchers breathalysed 1,862 people with a mean age of 27 in British pubs and bars on Friday and Saturday nights. Four hundred of this sample then completed a questionnaire, which asked them to rate their drunkenness, extreme drinking, risk to long-term health, and risk of liver cirrhosis.
The two sets of data were compared against each other to find that, "Whilst intoxicated and in drinking environments, people base judgements regarding their drinking on how their level of intoxication ranks relative to that of others […] around them, not on their actual levels of intoxication."
So, if you're pounding pints while your colleagues are sensibly sipping shandy, chances are you won't feel like that drunk. But if your mates are hitting those tequila slammers hard, you'll still end up feeling smashed—even if you're taking it easy. Makes for a cheap night out, right?
Researchers note that these findings could be used to help lower excessive drinking and alcohol-induced anti-social behaviour in public places.
Co-author of the study and professor in public health research, Simon Moore, explained to MUNCHIES: "We know that as the number of pubs and clubs increase in an area, you tend to see more alcohol-related harm. Coupled with our findings, I think we would suggest that altering the mix of venues, that is bring more sober people into the night time environment, might help."
But Moore added that further research is needed to test the theory that the presence of sober people in an area would affect the behaviour of those drinking.
Who knows, specially employed sober bystanders could be coming to a pub near you soon.