Understanding the scientific theories of party culture.

Photo by Andrea Marie Tan
Photo by Andrea Marie Tan

Given the intertwined nature of university and partying, many students indulge in social gatherings on campus. Fueled by sweet liquor and bass-heavy beats, partiers are unknowingly exposed to a surplus of scientific theories. Understanding the science behind partying reveals a unique way of characterizing various theories.

Biology of Anticipation

All students have experienced anticipation - that bubbling feeling before a final exam or the start of summer vacation. In the case of partying, anticipating a positive event leads to a significant boost in mental well-being. The control panel of anticipatory feelings, located in the cerebellum, craves the neurotransmitter dopamine. As a promoter for arousal and excitement, the brain eagerly stimulates the continuous output of dopamine. The hours leading up to a party are filled with a constant release of this neurotransmitter that improves overall mood and mental stability. The neuroscience of simply anticipating a party may provide the perfect excuse to go out instead of studying.

Sociology of Happiness

A party without music is a rare phenomenon. When gathering with peers, students like to share their latest Spotify playlists while singing and dancing. Music that is blasted at parties creates a sociological breeding ground for happiness through interaction. Human beings are designed to be together, so it is unsurprising to learn that studies have shown that people who dance in groups have fewer negative thoughts. Further research suggests that engaging with people can improve social connectivity and lead to feeling happier. Evidently, parties are the perfect environment for increasing happiness by connecting with other humans.

Psychology of Stress Relief

Parties and alcohol are about as coexistent as UBC and tuition increases. Although liquor can have negative effects, it is undoubtedly a popular stress reliever. In 1980, a theory called stress-response-dampening (SRD) was developed to describe the anxiolytic effects of consuming alcohol. As the name suggests, the SRD effect extrapolates the sedative and depressant characteristics of alcohol to the stress response. The mechanism of which this effect works has been hypothesized to involve attention and focus. Through the SRD effect, the overwhelming stress of assignments and exams can be temporarily ignored thanks to Palm Bays and Jager bombs.

From biology to sociology to psychology, the science above suggests that humans interact with numerous scientific theories while they party. Drinking and staying out late may have negative effects, but the science shows that ultimately, humans just want to feel good. Next time you’re at a party, consider these theories!