We all know the stereotype of the belligerent drunk and of the peace-hugging, artistically inclined stoner. But it took a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subject trial to bestow on that perception the imprimatur of science. Turns out that marijuana users are cooler. We knew that.
The trial, conducted by researchers in the Netherlands and published in the July 2016 issue of Psychopharmacology, was simplicity itself: First, scientists assembled a task force of heavy drinkers and inveterate stoners. Next, they randomly intoxicated half the group with their drug of choice (i.e. booze or weed), and exposed them to a series of aggro-inducing activities—namely matching a list of words to violent images and playing a computer game with options for defensive and offensive play. A third group—the control—performed the same tasks, but didn’t get to take any drugs. Afterward, researchers reviewed the data and asked the subjects to rate how aggressive they felt.
In all cases, the subjects were more riled up, both in feeling and in action, at the end of the test. However, the drinkers as a group were more aggressive than the control, and the stoners less so.
It turns out that sometimes there are reasons that stereotypes become stereotypes.