Cognitive Daily

Casual Fridays: What are you drinking?

Last week’s survey asked readers how their drinking habits changed when they were at work-related social events compared to with friends. Due to my own very casual Friday, I posted the survey rather late, after 10:00 p.m., so we received fewer responses than usual: just 137. Nonetheless, even with a relatively small sample, we were able to achieve significant results.

First off, what kind of jobs do Cognitive Daily readers have? Our nonscientific sample of readers who happened to check the site late Friday night or sometime over the weekend revealed the following:


The first thing I’d like you to notice about this graph is the color scheme — it’s the closest set of colors I could come up with in Microsoft Excel’s palette to actual beverages, in keeping with this week’s theme. Next, note that our readers come primarily from three broad areas: education, business, and “professional” — medical and legal. Most of the people who checked “other” on the survey were either students or engineers. Only one respondent classified his job as “manual labor.”

On to the question at hand: do people drink differently at job-related functions? We asked what respondents chose to drink at social work functions compared to when they were with their friends. Here are the results:


Greta had hypothesized that there would be more white-wine drinking and less red-wine drinking at work, since she sees white wine as a more “conservative” drinking choice. While the trend was in that direction, there was no significant difference in wine consumption at work versus with friends. However, two drink types did show significant differences: respondents drink more soft drinks and water at work, and more hard liquor with their friends.

So, does the type of job matter? Let’s take a look at the job-related drinking, broken down into the three major job groups:


Both educators and professionals drink significantly more red wine than business workers at job-related functions. Educators also drink significantly more white wine than business workers. I’m not going to chart it, but I did want to note that among educators, Greta’s hypothesis gained more support — the trend towards drinking more red wine and less white wine with friends was stronger, but still not significant.

Finally, there was a fascinating effect of age:


Respondents of all ages drink about the same amount of beer with their friends, but at job related functions, the older segment of our sample drinks significantly less beer. Do you have any explanations for this difference? Share them, along with any other observations you may have about these results, in the comments.

Next week’s study should be ready in a few hours.


  1. #1 Craig Pennington
    February 10, 2006

    Woohoo! Still with the young crowd! I have to think that the business drinking difference is due to age rather than generation. Shoot, drinks at lunch on Friday used to be a staple when I was younger. Now I rarely see it. And I remember you used to be able to write-off a few martinis with a business lunch back in the day.

  2. #2 Mick
    February 10, 2006

    …at work, you’re one of the lads if you drink lots of beer…if you’re older you can’t drink as much and you have to visit the toilet more frequently…maybe you feel you’ll lose out on the dynamics of the conversation when you return…only to have to go again ten minutes later…(he-he!)

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