Drinking Frequency and Basic Values Across Europe

Maksim Rudnev1,2 Christin-Melanie Vauclair2
  1. National Research University Higher School of Economics
  2. Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), CIS-IUL, Lisboa, Portugal


Theoretically, tight cultures prevent people from expressing their values with their behaviors, whereas loose cultures promote it. However, with frequency of drinking it is reversed.

Previous studies


Out of 10 studies 6– 7– 7– 3– 5– 3+ 7+ 6+ 2+/1– 3+/1–

Drinking motives studies (e.g. Kuntsche et al., 2014): social (+), enjoyment (+), coping (-) and stress (-) motives are related to higher amounts of alcohol consumed.

Country level

individualistic cultures drink more beer (Zhang and Shrum, 2009), autonomy and harmony (+) vs. embeddedness and hierarchy (-) drink more alcohol (Inman et al., 2017), but no significant relations in Europe (Mackenbach, 2014; Inman et al., 2017).


Data from: European Social Survey, round 7. 37,121 respondents in 21 countries.

Frequncy of drinking: “In the last 12 months… how often have you had a drink containing alcohol?”: “Every day” (1) to “Never” (7).

Values: “Here we briefly describe some people.. how much each person is or is not like you”: “Not at all like me” (1) to “Very much like me” (6). (Schwartz et al., 2001).

Results - Multilevel regression

Individual level
Openness to Change (vs. Conservation) 0.10*** (0.005)
Self-Transcendence (vs. Self-Enhancement) 0.001 (0.005)
Female -0.45*** (0.04)
Age (std.) 0.20*** (0.02)
Age (std.) x Female -0.09*** (0.01)
Years of education (std.) 0.13*** (0.01)
Living with partner 0.16*** (0.01)
Good mood scale 0.03** (0.01)
Frequency of social encounters (std.) 0.06*** (0.01)
Overall religiosity -0.08*** (0.01)

Country level
Openness to Change (vs. Conservation) (std.) -0.05 (0.04)
Self-Transcendence (vs. Self-Enhancement) (std.) 0.07 (0.04)

Cross-level interactions
individual Openness to Change (vs. Conservation)
    x country Openness to Change (vs. Conservation) -0.01 (0.01)†
    x country Self-Transcendence (vs. Self-Enhancement) -0.0004 (0.01)
individual Self-Transcendence (vs. Self-Enhancement)
    x country Self-Transcendence (vs. Self-Enhancement) -0.01* (0.01)
    x country Openness to Change (vs. Conservation) -0.03*** (0.01)
† p<0.10; * p<0.05; ** p<0.01; *** p<0.001.
Dependent variable - frequency of drinking.

Interactions between culture-level and individual-level values

Why? It’s counter-intuitive!

  1. Cultural rewards for abstatinig in tight cultures vs. lack of normative pressure in loose ones.
  2. Self-Affirmation: when people feel lonely in their values, drinking might help reconnect to their values.
  3. Differences in instantiations (Hanel et al., 2017): expressions of Self-Transcendence values:
    • (in cultures high on Openness): helping, caring about nature
    • (in cultures high on Consevration): sociability, that leads to drinking.