So researchers wondered why drunk people tended to get into arguments.
We know from other research that people under the influence of alcohol are less capable of getting the punch line in jokes but it also seems that when we are under the influence we are more likely to see intent in behaviour even when none exists.
Given a number of situations, some of which were clearly no-ones fault, people under the influence of alcohol were significantly more likely to want to blame someone for their behaviour.
The experts think that it takes cognitive effort to overcome this “intentionality bias” and alcohol not only has a disinhibiting effect but also narrows attention and makes people under its influence less likely to consider alternative explanations.
Drunken people, like Napoleon, are more likely to believe that there is no such thing as an accident.
Updated 1 December 2010: A Scientific American blog reports on a study presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management in August. It says that we know alcohol impairs a person’s reasoning abilities but researchers found that booze also diminishes how smart others perceive us to be.
In a series of six experiments, the investigators consistently found that participants rated people in pictures, videos and face-to-face encounters as less intelligent when they held or drank alcoholic beverages than when they drank nonalcoholic beverages or nothing at all.
They called it the “imbibing idiot bias” and it even persisted when participants drank fake alcoholic beverages that did not interfere with their cognitive functioning.
Most strikingly, in mock interviews volunteers judged job candidates as less intelligent when they ordered an alcoholic drink—even when the person interviewing them had done so first.