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PLoS One. 2015 Apr 8;10(4):e0121530. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121530. eCollection 2015.

Economic behavior under the influence of alcohol: an experiment on time preferences, risk-taking, and altruism.

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Department of Law Science and History of Institutions, University of Messina, Messina, Italy, and ISLA, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy.
Department of Economics, University of Milan, Milano, Italy, and Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Bonn, Germany.
Department of Economics, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.


We report results from an incentivized laboratory experiment undertaken with the purpose of providing controlled evidence on the causal effects of alcohol consumption on risk-taking, time preferences and altruism. Our design disentangles the pharmacological effects of alcohol intoxication from those mediated by expectations, as we compare the behavior of three groups of subjects: those who participated in an experiment with no reference to alcohol, those who were exposed to the possibility of consuming alcohol but were given a placebo and those who effectively consumed alcohol. All subjects participated in a series of economic tasks administered in the same sequence across treatments. After controlling for both the willingness to pay for an object and the potential misperception of probabilities as elicited in the experiment, we detect no effect of alcohol in depleting subjects' risk tolerance. However, we find that alcohol intoxication increases impatience and makes subjects less altruistic.

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