It may be unwise to judge a book by its cover, although new findings by a University of Manitoba researcher suggest you may be able to tell something about a person by the type of booze they drink.
The head of the university’s Alcohol and Tobacco Research Unit, Robert Murray has interviewed 1,200 Winnipeggers three times to try and find out more about why alcohol can have a protective effect with respect to heart disease.
The latest findings, published in this month’s Journal of Studies on Alcohol, show that personality may play a role in explaining the relationship between alcohol and a healthy heart.
“In this particular paper we looked at whether consumers of mostly wine or mostly beer or mostly spirits differed in their personality types,” Murray said. “And we found some differences.”
In men, Murray found, there’s a relationship between beer consumption and neuroticism. In women, increased wine consumption was associated with lower scores of sensation seeking. He discovered, too, a weaker association between increased use of spirits and lower self-esteem.
Murray also found demographic differences between beer, wine and liquor. Those who opt for beer and spirits tend to be less sophisticated than their wine-drinking peers. Wine drinkers tend to be better educated, have higher incomes, eat healthier food and exercise more than those who prefer a pint.
The next wave of Murray’s research will try and provide more insight into the line between the benefits of having a drink or two each day to the risk effects associated with drinking excessively.
“I’m particularly interested in this relationship between drinking causing protection against heart disease versus drinking causing harm. We really haven’t enough detail to map the boundary where drinking is protective and drinking is harmful,” he said.
“There is a healthful effect of regular use of alcohol, be it one drink a day or two drinks a day. There is a cardio-protective effect. On the other hand, there is a hazard effect, or a risk effect, of binge drinking.”
Binging was defined in Murray’s latest study as eight or more drinks on one occasion. A new survey that asks participants in greater detail about the amount they drink on each occasion will begin to better define the boundary between the protective and risk effects, he said.