Genetics Predisposes for Heavy Drinking After Watching Heavy Drinking
Spend any time in a bar, and sooner or later you'll hear, "I'll have what she's having." It sounds like a bad pickup line, but there may be an actual biological basis for this kind of alcohol copycat
behavior. Because scientists have found that having the gene for a certain dopamine
receptor could predispose you to being influenced by the sight of other people drinking.
Volunteers were ushered
into a lab set up to look like a pub. They were asked to do some busywork, then told that during the break they should help themselves to some adult beverages
. While they watched, shills
planted by the scientists immediately liquored up.
The study subjects were then tracked to see how much they drank after watching others toss them back. When the plants could be seen having just one drink, all the subjects drank similar amounts. But when the plants had at least three drinks, some participants drank twice as much as others. And DNA tests showed that the heavier drinkers had a particular variant
of a dopamine
receptor called DRD4. The work appears in the journal Psychological Science.
Next, the search for genes that make people order drinks with those little umbrellas.