Last week, researchers from the United Kingdom and Portugal published a study in Frontiers in Psychology that examined how cultural factors relate to varying levels of alcohol consumption.
According to Science Daily, “Using alcohol consumption and cultural value orientation data for seventy-four countries, the researchers modeled whether a country’s average level of alcohol consumption could be associated with various societal values such as autonomy, hierarchy, harmony, and collectivism” (Frontiers, 2017). This research project is unique because it examines alcohol consumption from a collective and cultural standpoint, rather than the more often studied personal and individual angle.
The study found that countries that placed more emphasis on autonomy and harmony, like the United States, had higher rates of alcohol consumption than countries that valued collectivism and social hierarchies more, like Japan (de la Cretaz, 2017).
Dr. Richard Inman, from Portugal’s Lusíada University of Porto and one of the study authors, stated, “Our results suggest that bodies like World Health Organization should prioritize tackling alcohol consumption in countries that are more autonomous and less traditional, and future research should be directed at further understanding the relationship between cultural values and alcohol” (de la Cretaz, 2017). The study’s coauthor, Dr. Paul Hanel of Bath University, elaborated by saying that, “Researchers could create similar profiles and models to help understand the cultural underpinnings for other risky behaviors such as smoking and drug taking, or health issues such as obesity” (de la Cretaz, 2017).
The World Health Organization stated that “harmful alcohol consumption caused more than 3.3 million deaths in 2012, 6 percent of all deaths that year” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that “excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths each year from 2006 to 2010” in the United States alone (Frontiers, 2017; de la Cretaz, 2017).
de la Cretaz, B. (2017). Do cultural values influence heavy alcohol consumption? Retrieved from https://www.thefix.com/do-cultural-values-influence-heavy-alcohol-consumption
Frontiers. (2017). Cultural values can be a strong predictor of alcohol consumption: Countries that value autonomy and harmony tend to have higher average levels of alcohol consumption than countries with more traditional values. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171120085450.htm