Drink: Agony and ecstasy

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Eat, drink and be merry this Christmas and help psychologists count the cost of having a good time. At least 100 people are being asked to help researchers at the University of Hull understand the relationship between drinking, laughter and health.

One of the aims, according to Dr Geoff Lowe who specialises in the study of pleasure and enjoyment, is to discover the extent to which the pleasure of eating and drinking is undermined by guilt.

"Sometimes people consume enjoyable substances such as naughty but nice food and drink but feel guilty about it. Such feelings may contribute to ill health," said Dr Lowe, adding that the study would "help establish which pleasurable feelings are mixed up with guilt and the effect that has on health."

Dr Lowe's research will involve volunteers watching a humorous video while drinking controlled amounts of alcohol to see if it enlivens laughter. Others will be given no alcoholic drinks while watching the same film.