The Impact of Empathy on Alcohol Consumption Habits

Research Reveals Correlation between Affective Empathy and Alcohol Consumption

Recent research conducted by the Research Society on Alcoholism highlights an unexpected connection between daily affective empathy and alcohol consumption. The findings of the study suggest that individuals tend to consume more alcohol on days when they experience higher-than-usual levels of affective empathy, even after adjusting for daily changes in positive and negative emotions.

Key Facts of the Study

The research report points out the following:

– On days when people felt more affective empathy than usual, they tended to consume more alcohol.
– The connection between affective empathy and alcohol use was not explained by daily changes in emotional states.
– Cognitive empathy, which refers to understanding another person’s perspective or emotional state, was not significantly linked to alcohol use, indicating that affective empathy might play a more crucial role in alcohol consumption.

Understanding the Research

The study took a closer look at how two facets of empathy motivate an individual’s drinking. The researchers examined affective empathy, which refers to an individual’s ability to share another person’s emotional state, and cognitive empathy, which refers to understanding another person’s perspective or emotional state.

The analysis of the research revealed that individuals consumed more drinks when they reported greater-than-average state affective empathy levels. Moreover, participants with higher trait positive effects, such as being relaxed or happy, were less likely to drink alcohol on a given day. However, individuals were more likely to drink alcohol and more of it as day-level state positive affect increased, and negative affect did not influence alcohol use.

Traight Empathy versus State Empathy

In contrast to past research, which has predominantly focused on trait empathy, the current study looked at state empathy, which is the variability in an individual’s empathy response to interpersonal interactions on a day-to-day basis. It demonstrated how changes in affective empathy on a day-to-day basis could help comprehend alcohol usage patterns.

Participants in the study reported their empathy levels in real-time and about specific social interactions rather than just filling out questionnaires about their typical empathy levels. Thus, this study showed new insights into empathy and alcohol use that previous methods had not exposed.


The authors of the study suggested that future research should explore factors such as mechanisms and individual differences that may influence the link between higher state affective empathy and increased alcohol usage. The study’s limitations were racially homogenous sample groups and brief protocol duration.

About the Empathy Research News

The research article was published at Research Society on Alcoholism, and the author was Lakshmi Kumar.

Abstract of the Research

This study aimed to examine how state (vs. trait) and cognitive (vs. affective) empathy were associated with daily alcohol use. Adult alcohol drinkers participated in ecological momentary assessment studies for every seven to ten days. The study revealed that daily shifts in affective empathy might be essential in understanding alcohol use.

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