Alcohol and Technology; new ways to measure effects of alcohol in the field

Master thesis project

Alcohol and Technology; new ways to measure effects of alcohol in the field

The effects of alcohol on people is relatively well researched. It has been show to impair imbibers cognitively and perceptually, which may cause them to behave less inhibited. Additionally, alcohol makes people more prone to see the benefits rather than the costs of helping others. This, however, could not be shown by Van Bommel et al (in press); in a controlled study they did not find increased helping as a result of alcohol intoxication, but it did influence response times: people who consumed alcohol actually came to aid others faster - in the presence of others.

Our knowledge of the consequences of drinking alcohol is predominantly based on controlled (laboratory) studies; in the current project we want to develop a new methodology for researching this in the field. In an earlier master thesis project, Van Hoof et al. (in press) tried to do so by adapting an existing technique, the Lost Letter Technique. In the current project we want to do the same using (mobile) technology: can the speed with which people respond to stimuli presented on their smart phones, or the type of information they respond to, for instance, inform us about effects of alcohol in real life?

The current thesis project aims to extend earlier work regarding the effect of alcohol use or even intoxication by conducting a carefully designed experiment in real life.

It is part of an ongoing research project by the departments of Communication Science and Psychology of Conflict, Risk, and Safety; nevertheless, students will have ample opportunity to develop ideas of their own.

This project is open to Communication and Psychology students; they can start as soon as they wish.

We aim at starting a MSc-thesis group with two students, one from PSY (First supervisor Dr. Peter de Vries and second supervisor Dr. Joris van Hoof) and one student from CS (First supervisor Dr. Joris van Hoof and second supervisor Dr. Peter de Vries. Each student will have his/her own project and research focus, but for practical tasks, students can help each other (e.g., data collection).


Van Hoof, De Vries, & Kroese (in press). Using the Lost Letter Technique to measure real-life behavioural effects of alcohol use. Journal of Substance Use.

Van Bommel, Van Prooijen, Elffers, & Van Lange (in press). Booze, Bars, and Bystander Behavior: People who Consumed Alcohol Help Faster in the Presence of Others. Frontiers in Psychology.


Please contact Sven Zebel ( if you are interested in this assignment.