September 2008 - Research led by the Université de Bretagne-Sud published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that playing loud music in licensed premises led customers to drink more alcohol over a shorter time period.
Corresponding author Nicolas Guéguen, a professor of behavioral sciences said:
"Previous research had shown that fast music can cause fast drinking, and that music versus no music can cause a person to spend more time in a bar. This is the first time that an experimental approach in a real context found the effects of loud music on alcohol consumption."
The study was conducted in two bars in a medium-sized western French city over three Saturday evenings. Researchers covertly observed 40 males between 18 and 25 years of age who ordered at least one glass of draft beer (25 cl or 8 oz). With the owners' permission, sound levels of Top 40 songs were randomly manipulated to 72 dB (considered normal) or 88 dB (considered high) and an individual selected for observation. After that person left the process was repeated. High sound levels were associated with increased drinking within a decreased amount of time.
The researchers offered two hypotheses to explain this finding as Nicolas Guéguen explained:
"One, in agreement with previous research on music, food and drink, high sound levels may have caused higher arousal, which led the subjects to drink faster and to order more drinks. Two, loud music may have had a negative effect on social interaction in the bar, so that patrons drank more because they talked less."
The researchers point out that in France more than 70 000 people die every year as a consequence of chronic alcohol consumption, and alcohol is associated with the majority of fatal car accidents.
Nicolas Guéguen concluded:
"We have shown that environmental music played in a bar is associated with an increase in drinking. We need to encourage bar owners to play music at more of a moderate level ... and make consumers aware that loud music can influence their alcohol consumption."
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