Two Sauder researchers just published a study about whether putting Red Bull in vodka really gets you more messed up, or if that insistent dude from Coppertank is full of crap.
The researchers gave 154 young men cocktails with vodka, Red Bull and fruit juice. They labelled the drinks as either “vodka-Red Bull cocktails” or just “vodka cocktails” to test whether the participants who were told about the Red Bull would feel more drunk, even though everyone had the same drink.
If your hypothesis was “telling bros there’s Red Bull in their drink makes them act dumb,” surprise: you are correct. The guys drinking the Red Bull-labelled cocktails demonstrated “significantly increased perceived intoxication, risk-taking and sexual self-confidence.”
This study adds to previous literature about alcohol’s placebo effect — a phenomenon where people feel drunk if they think they’ve been drinking alcohol, even if they have actually been drinking a fake narcotic.
“Red Bull has long used the slogan ‘Red Bull gives you wings,’ but our study shows that this type of advertising can make people think it has intoxicating qualities when it doesn’t,” said assistant Sauder professor Dr. Yann Cornil, the study’s lead author. “When alcohol is mixed with an energy drink and people are aware of it, they feel like they’re more intoxicated simply because the marketing says they should feel that way.”
The silver lining? Making people think they’re more drunk than they are makes them less likely to want to drive.
“It seems that drunk-driving education is working enough to make people think hard about driving when they are feeling drunk,” said study co-author Dr. Aradhna Krishna, a marketing professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.