According to a new study led by the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, Red Bull may figuratively give you wings. Researchers found that simply telling someone that they’re drinking an alcoholic beverage mixed with an energy drink can make them feel super-drunk, even more so than they actually are.
In the study, researchers gathered 154 young men and gave them a cocktail with vodka, Red Bull, and fruit juice. Each cocktail was labeled either emphasizing the presence of the energy drink or not — e.g., “vodka-Red Bull cocktail, “vodka cocktail,” or “exotic cocktail.” Participants in the study were then asked to complete tasks on a computer screen to see how their perceived “drunkness,” attitudes, and behaviors changed.
Results showed that those who drank cocktails that openly labeled the presence of Red Bull “significantly increased” how drunk the participants thought they were, along with risk-taking, and self-confidence, especially among those who already believed mixing alcohol and energy drinks can make you more drunk.
“Given the study's findings about the psychological effects of energy-drink marketing, energy drink marketers should be banned from touting the disinhibiting effects of their ingredients,” Pierre Chandon, co-author of the study and marketing professor at the international business school INSEAD, said in a statement. “Regulations and codes of conduct should consider the psychological — and not just the physiological — effects of products.”