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If you’re someone who still prioritizes social distancing in their lives, you might not want to attend parties serving alcohol. A new study has shown that alcohol really can help bring people together, and it can even get strangers touching each other after a very short time. Is there a more literal ice breaker than that?

University of Illinois researchers found that when alcohol is consumed in social settings, people will start getting closer to each other after every few minutes, by one centimeter, to be exact. But, if people aren’t drinking at these social gatherings, the researchers found that they were more likely to keep a more considerable distance between them throughout the gathering.

Study authors asked 212 healthy, young social drinkers (particularly groups of friends) to undergo different experimental conditions. In like 50% of the cases, the participants were given drinks to enjoy with a friend. In the other half of the cases, they were made to drink with a stranger. Researchers also made the pairs either drink only water or soda or take enough booze until they get drunk.

Social Distancing and Social Drinking

Study authors noted that friends usually tend to gravitate closer together regardless of what they’re drinking. However, for drunk strangers, alcoholic beverages seem to be a vital ingredient for their social mingling.

Professor Catharine Fairbairn reported that participants paired with a stranger only got closer to that person after knocking back a couple of alcoholic drinks. She further stated that the distance between these two people got smaller by around 1 cm every 3 minutes. The professor confirmed that the experiments were conducted in a quiet and spacious laboratory. She adds that the participants would’ve moved even closer faster if it were not for the table put in between them.