By Andy Young
New research from Oxford University has suggested that visits to a local pub increases social engagement which can improve overall wellbeing.
The study asked whether there is “any evidence that alcohol consumption has social benefits beyond a simple hedonic ‘high’ or anxiolytic effect”. Through a number of questionnaires and over 2200 responses the study suggested that there is a benefit to visiting the pub.
The report said: “The survey data suggest that respondents who have a ‘local’ that they visit on a regular basis are more socially engaged, feel more contented in their lives, and are more likely to trust other members of their community.
“On some, but not all of our social measures, those who drink ‘casually’ were more socially engaged than those who didn’t drink at all, suggesting that there are independent effects due to being a drinker and having a regular drinking venue.
“The path analysis suggested that feeling satisfied with life and how often one visits a pub both independently influence a set of variables associated with happiness and trust in others, which in turn influence engagement with the community and personal network size.”
Professor Robin Dunbar, from Oxford's experimental psychology department, said: "Our social networks provide us with the single most important buffer against mental and physical illness.
"While pubs traditionally have a role as a place for community socialising, alcohol’s role appears to be in triggering the endorphin system, which promotes social bonding."