Why you may want to stop telling people to ‘down’ booze

Washington D.C. [USA] : Turns out, campaigns designed to stop young people downing alcoholic drinks in one go aka “bolting” don’t really help as according to a recent study, telling people not to “down” booze can make them more likely to do it.

Scientists from the University of Exeter and the University of Queensland examined reactions to a poster warning of the consequences of bolting and found it had no effect on people’s future intentions.

And when a statement was added saying other people disapproved of bolting, study participants reported stronger intentions to bolt in the future.

However, changing this to a message saying most people “do not bolt drinks on a night out” was effective.

“Many young people overestimate the extent to which their peers both approve of and engage in risky drinking behaviours,” said study author Joanne Smith.

Smith suggested that one way to tackle risky drinking is to try to correct these misperceptions through health campaigns, such as posters.

“In our research, we wanted to explore what kinds of messages are more effective in changing people’s intentions to bolt,” Smith added.

She added, “Our results highlight the potentially harmful effects of exposure to what’s called an ‘injunctive norm’ – a message about the approval or disapproval of others. Meanwhile, a ‘descriptive norm’ – telling people what others do rather than what they think – had a positive impact.”

The study is published in the journal Addiction Research and Theory. 

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