Moderate boozing key to decent social life say Oxford uni experts

Fellow student Bethany Toon, 17, with Bruce Wetherill, 25, at St Vincent College, Gosport  Picture: Neil Marshall (171028-16)

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NEW research indicates moderate drinking with friends at a local pub may be linked to improved wellbeing.

Experts at the University of Oxford have looked at whether having a drink may play a role in improving ‘social cohesion’, given its long association with ‘human social activities’.

Combining data from three separate studies – a questionnaire-based study of pub clientele, observing conversational behaviour in pubs, and a national survey by the Campaign for Real Ale – the team looked at whether the frequency of alcohol consumption or the type of venue affected people’s social experiences and wellbeing.

They found people who have a ‘local’ that they visit regularly tend to feel more socially engaged and contented, and are more likely to trust others in their community.

They also observed that those without a local pub had significantly smaller social networks and felt less engaged with, and trusting of, their local communities.

The study showed that those who drank at local pubs tended to socialise in smaller groups, which encouraged whole-group conversation, while those drinking in city-centre bars tended to be in much larger groups, and participated much less in group conversation.

Professor Robin Dunbar said: ‘The study showed that frequenting a local pub can directly affect peoples’ social network size and how engaged they are with their local community, which in turn can affect how satisfied they feel in life.

‘Our social networks provide us with the single most important buffer against mental and physical illness.’