Are you a Hemingway, a Nutty Professor, or a Poppins?? No, that’s not the latest Facebook game (although it’d be really fun to see one implemented), but it’s a classification introduced by researchers at the University of Missouri. Basically, depending on how your personality changes when you start drinking, they’ve defined 4 types: the Hemingways, the Mary Poppins, the Nutty Professors, and the Dr. Hydes.

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“Some individuals ‘‘change’’ more dramatically than others when intoxicated, and the nature and magnitude of these changes can result in harmful outcomes,” they write in the initial part of the abstract. “The primary purpose of this study was to assess the degree to
which levels of sober and drunk personality traits can be grouped into meaningful clusters,” they then add.

Of course, for the study, they used undergrads – 374 undergrads that enjoy their fair share of pints every now and then. They conducted the study because despite all the Buzzfeed-like article that you might read about the “types of drinkers”, there isn’t a single peer-reviewed study on that issue – or at least they couldn’t find it.

So, as it turns out, here are the four clusters they found:

  • The Ernest Hemingway drinker. Ernest Hemingway liked to brag that he could go on drinking for days and still not get drunk – in other words, his personality didn’t change significantly when he wasn’t sober. I’m absolutely thrilled they named this category after him, as Hemingway was a truly spectacular individual (read this article to see just how incredibly awesome a person he was). This was the largest group, with 40% of participants included here.
  • The Mary Poppins drinker. About 14% of participants were included here, and I’d dare say yours truly can also fit. Basically, the Mary Poppins drinker becomes much more friendly and sweet when he’s drunk, talking to more people and engaging more with those around.
  • But on the contrary, the Mr Hyde drinkers reported a tendency of being particularly less responsible, less intellectual, and more hostile when under the influence of alcohol. This was the ‘only cluster that was statistically more likely to experience alcohol consequences, suggesting that individuals in this group not only embody less savoury personality characteristics when drunk, but also incur acute harm from their drinking,’ researchers say.
  • The last one, the Nutty Professor drinker was generally introverted when sober, but became much more extroverted when drunk.  They also tended to report having the most overall discrepancy between their reported sober and drunk traits. But despite the fact that they changed significantly upon alcohol consumption, there was no increased risk of harm associated.
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This is still an initial study, on a very particular type of people (undergrads), possibly not representative of the entire population, and over a relatively small number of participants, but it does raise some interesting prospects. Alcohol can be used successfully as a “social lubricant”, and it’s not always associated with increased social risk, but it can also turn people into Mr Hyde – it all depends on your personality. So… which one are you?

You can read the entire study here, for free.

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