The research, carried out by professor of evolutionary biology Robin Dunbar on behalf of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), found that people who counted themselves as having a local pub were more trusting and felt more engaged with their local communities.
It also found that people in community pubs typically consume less alcohol than those in large city centre venues, leaving them less likely to take part in risky or dangerous behaviour.
By contrast, people visiting city centre bars tend to be in larger social groups than those in community pubs, but feel less engaged with the people they're with and have significantly shorter conversations.
Professor Robin Dunbar said: “Friendship and community are probably the two most important factors influencing our health and wellbeing. Making and maintaining friendships, however, is something that has to be done face-to-face: the digital world is simply no substitute. Given the increasing tendency for our social life to be online rather than face-to-face, having relaxed accessible venues where people can meet old friends and make new ones becomes ever more necessary.”
CAMRA chief executive Tim Page added: “Pubs offer a social environment to enjoy a drink with friends in a responsible, supervised community setting. Nothing is more significant for individuals, the social groupings to which they belong and the country as a whole as our personal and collective wellbeing. The role of community pubs in ensuring that wellbeing cannot be overstated. For that reason, we all need to do what we can to ensure that everyone has a ‘local’ near to where they live or work.”
The research is another boost to the Publican’s Morning Advertiser’s #TryJanuary campaign, which urges the trade and consumers to reclaim the month by socialising in local pubs and try new food and drink.
“We don’t believe that staying indoors and abstaining is good for physical and mental health. We also think that the culture of removing things from our lives, rather than thinking of ways to enhance our lives, is an ultimately depressing outlook,” said Jessica Mason, drinks & brands editor at the PMA.
“Socialising is incredibly good for the soul and nobody ever put the world to rights over a green tea at home on their own. Celebrations, good days, bad days and all the best anecdotes were created in the company of friends – so often in the pub. The premise for #TryJanuary was to remind people that New Year’s resolutions used to be about starting each year on the good foot, not about reduction but about being better people. As pubs continue to close, so is a little bit of our community and our liberty. We need to change the mindset that pubs don’t matter.”