Can simply the belief that you have had alcohol affect your memory of an event? We know that alcohol and memory are linked. But so are water and memory!
Alcohol and Memory vs Water and Memory
Researchers used memory tests involving eyewitness accounts. People who falsely thought they were drinking alcohol were more swayed by misleading facts presented after the event. That’s compared to those who were told their drinks contained no alcohol.
This finding is not surprising. Studies show that people who falsely believe they are drinking alcohol tend to act differently. These changes include greater aggression, higher sexual arousal, and greater confidence.
Many of the effects of alcohol are a result of our expectations. We think that it will affect us in certain ways. We learn these expectations from our society. For example, in some societies people don’t think that drunkeness causes disinhibition. So in those societies, drunk people don’t act in disinhibited ways.
Alcohol expectancies support stereotypes that can result in behavior changes. Thus, the myths that “gin makes you cry. Bubbly makes you flirt. And tequila makes you violent” can become self-fulfilling prophesies. In turn, these behaviors reinforce the stereotype.
Water can be as powerful as alcohol. That’s something to remember.
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- Assefi, S. and Garry, M. Absolute memory distortions. Alcohol placebos influence the misinformation effect. Psych Sci, 14(1), 77-80.