We are really bad at reporting things we perceive could be to our disadvantage. We tend to sugar up the reality when we talk about our relations, sex, sports, and salary and conceal facts about how much we drink, smoke, play video games or eat unhealthy food. Some may blame this on social media, arguing that we have got used to creating a positive public image of ourselves everywhere we go and forgot about being sincere and objective. Whatever the cause is, we are quite bad at telling the truth about ourselves. In fact, alcohol consumption research shows that people report drinking 50 percent less alcohol than they actually drink.
However, this is mainly not because we tend to lie about our lives. Another important reason is that measuring actual alcohol content is very difficult for consumers without a degree in chemistry. Researchers measure alcohol consumption in units (1 unit = 10 milliliters of pure alcohol) and ordinary people—in bottles, glasses, and pints. Therefore, there is a problem with conversion. It may be a really good idea to create a unified system of alcohol content measurement and make alcohol manufacturers indicate alcohol content on every bottle. Also, since we live in the digital age, data may be processed by a special phone app to calculate your consumption per week or month.
Another part of the answer to the mystery of the lost 50 percent of alcohol is that people tend to report only “regular” drinking, ignoring special occasions such as parties(here are some useful drinking tips), weddings, funerals, etc. These extra drinking occasions mostly hit 25-to-34 men and women, adding 18 units (that is 0.18 liters of pure alcohol!) per week. Accounting for this additional alcohol helps find 40 missing percent of the consumption.
But why collecting self-reported information is so important for the alcohol consumption research if it shows a 50 percent inaccuracy? For researchers, it is important to know who were drinking, and for what kind of occasion, and pure figures provided by shops and supermarkets cannot give this kind of detailed information. By analyzing this information researchers figure out our drinking habits and find tendencies that may be harmful to a particular social group.