Our Drinking Habits Reveal an Unfair Bias Toward ‘Male,’ ‘Extrovert’ Over ‘Female,’ ‘Introvert’

Our sexual attitudes are the exception that proves the rule.

One of Audrey Hepburn’s most beloved quotations describes how she loved being introverted: “I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.” Sounds lovely. But what if she’d said she like to drink a glass of wine alone?


Then the quote might not be remembered so fondly. Because most Westerners look down on people who drink alone. As Oxford Research fellows Rebecca Roache and Hannah Maslen note, people make the inference that “drinking alone is symptomatic of an underlying problem with the drinker; as such, we think drinking alone is worse because it raises concerns about the welfare of the drinker. The second [reason] involves a moral disapproval of drinking alone.”

“Although a man alone at a bar is not presumed to be looking for anything more than a drink, even now, a woman is often perceived as out for romantic company, possibly actual sex, possibly right there on the bar stool.”

The researchers go on to say that our culture bias for extroverts confounds the problem — drinking alone is interpreted as socially isolationist and thus threatening. For women, the act is especially viewed as Amy Schumer Trainwreck-esque. The Washington Post writer M. Carrie Allan reflects on women drinking alone, “Although a man alone at a bar is not presumed to be looking for anything more than a drink, even now, a woman is often perceived as out for romantic company, possibly actual sex, possibly right there on the bar stool.”

Chelsea Handler once quipped, “You know you're a hot mess when the only person buying you drinks all night is yourself.” But according to Roache and Maslen, “There is no defensible reason why it should be.” Women and introverts, cheers to you. 

The social media that push us to be more introverted may be making us unhappy. Harvard lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar explains:

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Keep reading Show less

The Universe Shouldn’t Exist, CERN Scientists Announce

BASE particle physicists have discovered a very precise way to examine antimatter.

The Veil Nebula. Credit: By Jschulman555 - Own work, Wikipedia Commons.
Surprising Science

Thank your lucky stars you’re alive. It’s truly a miracle of nature. This has nothing to do with spirituality or religion and everything to do with science. Life itself may not be the miracle. Although we haven’t found it elsewhere yet, our galaxy alone is so replete with Earth-like planets that, mathematically speaking, one of them must hold life, even if it’s just the microbial variety. Intelligent life may be another matter.

Keep reading Show less

Ashamed over my mental illness, I realized drawing might help me – and others – cope

Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.

Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.

Keep reading Show less

Sexual activity linked to higher cognitive function in older age

A joint study by two England universities explores the link between sex and cognitive function with some surprising differences in male and female outcomes in old age.

The results of this one-of-a-kind study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men.
Image by Lightspring on Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
  • The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
  • The differences in testosterone (the male sex hormone) and oxytocin (a predominantly female hormone) may factor into why the male cognitive level changes much more during sexual activity in older age.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…