The Imbibing Idiot Bias: Consuming Alcohol Can Be Hazardous to Your (Perceived) Intelligence

Forthcoming, Journal of Consumer Psychology

23 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2010 Last revised: 13 Jun 2012

Scott Rick

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Maurice E. Schweitzer

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department

Date Written: June 12, 2012

Abstract

Alcohol consumption and cognitive impairment frequently co-occur. We propose that the relationship is so familiar that exposure to alcohol cues primes expectations of cognitive impairment. Across five studies, we find that in the absence of any evidence of reduced cognitive performance, people who hold an alcoholic beverage are perceived to be less intelligent than those who do not, a mistake we term the imbibing idiot bias. In fact, merely priming observers with alcohol cues causes them to judge targets who hold no beverage at all as less intelligent. The bias is not driven by a belief that less intelligent people are more likely to consume alcohol. We find that the bias may be costly in professional settings. Job candidates who ordered wine during an interview held over dinner were viewed as less intelligent and less hireable than candidates who ordered soda. However, prospective candidates believe that ordering wine rather than soda will help them appear more intelligent.

Keywords: alcohol, intelligence, person perception, impression formation, job interviews

JEL Classification: M12, M51

Suggested Citation

Rick, Scott and Schweitzer, Maurice E., The Imbibing Idiot Bias: Consuming Alcohol Can Be Hazardous to Your (Perceived) Intelligence (June 12, 2012). Forthcoming, Journal of Consumer Psychology. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1623056 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1623056

Scott Rick (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

HOME PAGE: http://webuser.bus.umich.edu/srick/

Maurice E. Schweitzer

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-4776 (Phone)
215-898-3664 (Fax)

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