Cultural Values May Predict Alcohol Abuse, Study Says


Contributed by Zawn Villines, Correspondent

A country’s cultural values may affect the willingness of citizens to consume alcohol, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology. Researchers found that people from societies that value autonomy and harmony are more likely to consume alcohol. This could affect their risk of developing an alcohol addiction.

In America, alcohol is consumed widely. In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 86.4% of American adults reported consuming alcohol at least once. Seventy percent drank at least once during the past year, and 56% drank at least once during the past month. Among the adults surveyed, 6.2% had an alcohol addiction.

Alcohol Consumption: Why Culture Matters

The study used online data to assess cultural values from 74 different nations. Researchers also gathered data on alcohol consumption from each country. From there, they performed a ridge regression analysis and calculated partial correlations.

There was a close association between cultural values and alcohol consumption, even when researchers controlled for other factors linked to alcohol use, such as educational level and income. Cultures that valued embeddedness and hierarchy had lower rates of alcohol consumption, while individualistic cultures that prioritized harmony had higher rates of alcohol use.

The study also uncovered differences in the ways culture affected alcohol consumption by gender. Changes in cultural harmony, egalitarianism, autonomy, and mastery were associated with increased alcohol consumption in men but not women. Changes in cultural embeddedness and hierarchy were associated with decreased alcohol consumption in women but not men. The study did not assess alcohol consumption levels in people who identify as genders other than male and female or as nonbinary.

One of the study’s authors, Dr. Richard Inman, suggests that international public health organizations “should prioritize tackling alcohol consumption in countries that are more autonomous and less traditional.” Further research may study how cultural values correspond with smoking and drug use.

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  1. Alcohol facts and statistics. (2017). National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved from
  2. Cultural values can be a strong predictor of alcohol consumption. (2017, November 20). Science Daily.Retrieved from
  3. Inman, R. A., da Silva, S. M., Bayoumi, R., & Hanel, P. H. (2017). Cultural value orientations and alcohol consumption in 74 countries: A societal-level analysis. Frontiers in Psychology. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01963

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