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Drinking down the ‘local’ linked to improved well-being

Moderate alcohol consumption with friends at a local pub could be linked to improved well-being, say researchers at the University of Oxford. 

Moderate alcohol consumption with friends at a local pub could be linked to improved well-being, say researchers at the University of Oxford. 


The study found that people who visited their local regularly were more content. Picture: iStock

After 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 researchers looked at whether the frequency of alcohol consumption or the type of venue affected peoples’ social experiences and well-being. 

They found that those who have a ‘local’ they visit regularly tend to feel more socially engaged and content, and are more likely to trust other members of their community, while people without a local pub had significantly smaller social networks and felt less engaged with, or trusting of, their local communities. 

Buffer against illness 

The study also showed that those who drank in local pubs tended to socialise in smaller groups, which encourages whole-group conversation. 

Study author Robin Dunbar said social networks ‘provide us with the single most important buffer against mental and physical illness.’ 


Dunbar R et al (2016) Functional Benefits of (Modest) Alcohol Consumption. Adaptive Human Behaviour and Physiology. doi: 10.1007/s40750-016-0058-4

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