By combining data from three separate studies, including a national survey by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), researchers at the University of Oxford revealed that people who visit their pub frequently tended to be more “socially engaged and contented” with their trusted local community as opposed to those who didn’t.
The study claimed: “Alcohol is known to trigger the endorphin system, and the social consumption of alcohol may thus have the same effect as the many other social activities such as laughter, singing and dancing.”
‘Possible’ health benefits
The Adaptive Human Behaviour and Psychology journal claimed that most studies on alcohol focused on its health problems due to “over-consumption”.
However, the study highlighted two possible health benefits including “psychological wellbeing” and “social or cognitive skills” that allow people to function in social situations.
‘Buffer against mental and physical illness’
Oxford University’s experimental psychology professor Robin Dunbar said: “Our social networks provide us with the single most important buffer against mental and physical illness.”
“While pubs traditionally have a role as a place for community socialising, alcohol’s role appears to be in triggering the endorphin system, which promotes social bonding.”
CAMRA chairman Colin Valentine said: “Personal wellbeing and happiness have a massive impact not only on individual lives, but on communities as a whole.
“It will be of no surprise to CAMRA members that pubs play such a pivotal role in a person’s wellbeing, but it is fantastic news to hear that this wisdom has now been confirmed by research.”
He added: “Pubs play a unique role in offering a social environment to enjoy a drink with friends in a responsible, supervised community setting.
“For this reason, we all need to do what we can to ensure that everyone has a ‘local’ near to where they live or work — the first step towards which is strengthening planning protection for pubs to stem the 21 pubs closing across this country each week.”
‘Permanent security’ for pubs
This week CAMRA has called for permanent measures for pubs registered as assets of community value (ACVs).
The body is urging the Government to place pubs in a category of their own to ensure owners always have to seek planning permission before the site is either demolished or converted into another venue.
This will provide “permanent security” for local campaigning groups to keep their local open.