Research in from Oxford University has shown that it’s good to be a regular with a small, local pub, with visits increasing social engagement which can lead to improved overall wellbeing.

According to the research, people who enjoy a pint at a local are “significantly” happier, have more friends, better life satisfaction, and are less likely to drink to excess.

The study highlighted the importance of face-to-face interaction, and noted that people were more likely to be engaged in conversations in small community pubs rather than larger establishments.

The report said: “The survey data suggest that respondents who have a ‘local’ that they visit on a regular basis are more socially engaged, feel more contented in their lives, and are more likely to trust other members of their community.

“On some, but not all of our social measures, those who drink ‘casually’ were more socially engaged than those who didn’t drink at all, suggesting that there are independent effects due to being a drinker and having a regular drinking venue.

“The path analysis suggested that feeling satisfied with life and how often one visits a pub both independently influence a set of variables associated with happiness and trust in others, which in turn influence engagement with the community and personal network size.”

Professor Robin Dunbar, from Oxford’s experimental psychology department, said: “Our social networks provide us with the single most important buffer against mental and physical illness.

“While pubs traditionally have a role as a place for community socialising, alcohol’s role appears to be in triggering the endorphin system, which promotes social bonding.”

It also revealed that social skills improve after a drink, while people were more likely to be engaged in conversations in small community pubs rather than larger establishments.

The study was conducted in pubs in Oxfordshire with 2,200 respondents, and it also found pubs were very important in providing a place where people could meet and make friends.

Professor Dunbar went on to say: “Friendship and community are probably the two most important factors influencing our health and wellbeing.

“Making and maintaining friendships, however, is something that has to be done face-to-face. The digital world is simply no substitute.

“Given the increasing tendency for our social life to be online rather than face-to-face, having relaxed accessible venues where people can meet old friends and make new ones becomes ever more necessary.”

“Pubs offer a social environment to enjoy a drink with friends in a responsible, supervised community setting. Nothing is more significant for individuals, the social groupings to which they belong and the country as a whole as our personal and collective wellbeing.

“The role of community pubs in ensuring that wellbeing cannot be overstated. For that reason, we all need to do what we can to ensure that everyone has a ‘local’ near to where they live or work.”

“Pubs came to represent the heart and soul of a community, providing both a place of entertainment and an engine for community bonding.

The findings from this UK study obviously translates to community clubs here in Australia, but it is important to note that it is small and local venues only that produce this wellbeing. Could this be something for small Australian clubs and pubs to explore as a point of difference?

You can read more about the study at @UniofOxford