The 4 Drunk Personality Types, According to Science

Psychologists have identified four main "types of drunks" based on how you handle your liquor in social settings. What kind of drinker are you?

Cecily Strong as "Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With" on SNL's Weekend Update

You probably already know from real-life experiences that alcohol can have drastically different personality effects on one person from the next. And actually, there's science to prove that "types of drunks" really do exist, according to a study published in the journal Addiction Research and Theory.

Researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia recruited 187 undergraduates who reported having a "drinking buddy" (someone who knows what they are like when both sober and drunk) to separately fill out identical surveys to assess drinking frequency, alcohol-related consequences, and sober and drunk personality traits. They then created subgroups (or "types of drunks") based on the five-factor method — the broad domains used by psychologists to determine personality — which include neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

Turns out, there are four kinds of drunk personalities that coincidentally match up with some popular names you'll likely recognize from your childhood: Hemingway, Mary Poppins, Mr. Hyde, and the Nutty Professor. Check out the defining characteristics below to see where your friends — and you for that matter — fit in.

The 4 Types of Drunks

The Hemingways

This is your friend who can knock back whatever they want without anyone even noticing, just like Ernest Hemingway himself. Members of this group reported only slight personality changes when intoxicated. Their conscientiousness (e.g. being prepared, organized, or prompt) and intellect (e.g. understanding abstract ideas and being imaginative) were affected less than the rest of the sample.

Interestingly, this was by far the largest group. The researchers conclude that this "type of drunk" represents the majority of drinkers who tend not to undergo drastic character changes or experience alcohol-related consequences.

The Mary Poppins

Like the beloved, cheerful nanny, the "Mary Poppins" group was composed of a small number of drinkers (14 percent of the sample) who are particularly agreeable when sober — this would be the friendliest, most cooperative friend you have. Once intoxicated, this group saw less of a decrease in conscientiousness and intellect and more of an increase in extraversion than others. In short, "the Mary Poppins group of drinkers essentially captures the sweet, responsible drinkers who experience fewer alcohol-related problems compared to those most affected," the study explains.

The Mr. Hydes

Those who took after the evil alter-ego of Dr. Jekyll experienced the most negative drunk transformation. Members of this group reported decreases in conscientiousness and intellect, and smaller increases in extraversion when drunk compared to the other samples. "Members of this group, much like the dark-sided Mr. Hyde, reported a tendency of being particularly less responsible, less intellectual, and more hostile when under the influence of alcohol than they are when they are sober, as well as relative to members of the other groups," the study concluded.

Not to mention, this was the only group that was statistically more likely to experience harmful consequences from their drinking (i.e. blacking out, or being arrested because of drunken behavior).

The Nutty Professors

This group — named after the character played by Eddy Murphy who is chemically transformed into the more confident, extraverted "Buddy Love" — was particularly introverted when sober, but showed a large increase in extraversion when drunk, as well as a decrease in conscientiousness. Members of this group had the most overall discrepancy between their sober and drunk traits, but still in the healthy decision-making range (as in, no blacking out and no drunk texting their exes). This is your shy friend who becomes the life of the party after a few drinks.

It's hard to deny the anecdotal truth in the research. Still, the study authors do admit to a number of limitations. For example, the "drunk types" were based on self-reported information and on "typical" drunken experiences that did not allow researchers to investigate personality differences across different types of drunk situations. And, most importantly, the sample group was comprised of mostly White, American college students, making it hard to generalize the findings. Therefore, the authors say they "do not attempt to extend or apply these findings beyond the college-aged drinkers who were studied."

Still, it should make for a pretty great happy hour conversation this weekend — especially as all your friends transform into their drunk alter egos.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles