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A Systematic Review of the Effects of Alcohol on Emotion Recognition

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posted on 26.08.2022, 19:33 authored by Bethany Sanov

Aims. Alcohol has been linked to both positive (e.g., sociability) and negative (e.g., aggression) social outcomes; however, specific mechanisms that contribute to these alcohol-induced social outcomes remain unclear. Alcohol-induced changes in emotion recognition may enhance social experiences, and contribute to the development of social problems. This study aims to 1) systematically review alcohol administration studies to clarify effects of alcohol on emotion recognition, and 2) review potential moderators.

Methods. PsycINFO, PubMed, and Google Scholar were searched following a pre-registered PROSPERO protocol (CRD42021225392) and PRISMA methodology. Analyses focused on differences in emotion recognition between participants consuming an alcoholic and/or a non-alcoholic (i.e., placebo or no-alcohol control) beverage.

Participants. 14 studies (all with unique samples; N=996 participants)

Measures. Data were extracted for sample demographics, alcohol administration methods, and emotion recognition tasks/outcomes.

Conclusions. No consistent effects of alcohol on emotion recognition emerged for any emotions. Moderating variables (e.g., alcohol dosage(s), emotion recognition tasks) were also unclear. Further research is needed to clarify the underlying mechanisms explaining alcohol’s effects on positive and negative social behaviors. This knowledge may help our understanding of alcohol-induced social costs, which may inform prevention and intervention approaches, and may provide support to theories focused on alcohol’s social rewards.





Kasey Creswell