Alcohol + Red Bull leads to Higher Risk Gambling

There’s a mentality-trend in today’s society, thanks to marketing and social media, that has many of us believing we will become more intoxicated by mixing high energy drinks with alcohol. A new study, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, set out to prove that the placebo effect truly works, using romantic behavior and gambling as a backdrop.

Gambling with Red Bull Cocktail

The study was conducted by a group of researchers in Canada, France and the United States. The subjects included 154 heterosexual males, all of similar body mass. The idea was to find out why the consumption of cocktails involving alcohol and energy drinks like Red Bull has become synonymous with a higher rate of car accidents, sexual assaults and mischievous behavior in general.

Entitled, “Placebo Effects of Marketing Labels on Perceived Intoxication and Risky Attitudes and Behaviors”, each of the male subjects were divided into one of three groups. All of the groups were served the exact same beverage, and were made aware of what was in it.

Each consisted of vodka, Red Bull and fruit juice. The only difference between the three groups was the way their serving glasses were labeled.

One group was served this (arguably) tasty beverage in a glass labeled “Vodka cocktail”. Another was served with glasses that read “Vodka-Red Bull cocktail”. The other group’s glasses read, “Exotic fruits cocktails”.

Once all subjects had finished their drinks, and been given adequate time for the alcohol’s effects to set it, each was given a series of tasks to undertake on a computer. First was a romantic behavioral test, followed by a gambling test.

The romantic test required each man to look at a series of photographs of young women. Then, they were asked a few questions about the women in the photos, such as how likely they would be to strike up a conversation with them, and what reaction they expected to receive if they did.

It became clear that the men who’d been served their drink in a “Vodka-Red Bull cocktail” glass were more confident. They were more likely to approach, and expected a more positive reception. Furthermore, the rate of high expectancy was more pronounced in subjects who believed alcohol mixed with energy drinks provided a higher level of intoxication.

Next came the gambling game, and the results were quite similar, with “Vodka-Red Bull cocktail” drinkers noted for higher risk gambling behavior.

The game involved pushing a button to gradually blow air into a balloon. The balloon grew larger with each push, and promised to pay more cash winnings the larger it got. If the balloon was over-inflated to the pointing of bursting, however, no money would be won.

The men who’d drank from the “Vodka-Red Bull cocktail” glasses inflated their balloons 12% more, on average, than the other participants in the study.

The placebo effect, induced by social networking and marketing, clearly played a role in their high risk gambling and romantic behaviorism. Despite all subjects having consumed the exact same amount of alcohol, the Red Bull label group not only exhibited elevated bravado, they reported feeling more intoxicated than the remainder of the subjects.

The study proves a number of things. Aside from the power of marketing and placebo effects in our belief system, it also proves that casinos would do well to imprint Red Bull logos on their serving glasses, and that young men should avoid drinking such cocktails while gambling.

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