Free Beer

Brewing individualism


Beer and individualism go together like beer and pretzels, according to a study reported in the February Journal of Consumer Research.

Marketing researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio compared beer guzzling habits across dozens of countries. Using a scale developed by the Dutch marketing researcher Geert Hofstede, they ranked nations based on levels of individualism. On average, levels of beer consumption were higher in individualist countries than in collectivist countries, a finding that withstood adjustments for differences in income, climate, gender, and religion.

The researchers found similar results within the United States. Higher levels of beer consumption were documented in states such as Montana and Oregon, which also ranked high in individualism.

Then, in the name of science, the researchers gave 128 college students free beer. After priming some of the testees to focus on collectivizing forces, such as family, and priming others to focus on themselves, the researchers sat back and counted the drinks consumed. The students primed to think like individualists knocked back more beers than the collectivists.