If cheesy laugh-track sitcoms have taught us anything, it's that the pub isn't just a place to get drunk. The community you build by being a regular at a pub can be valuable for improving your own life. Photo by Russel Trow.
As researchers at Oxford's Department of Experimental Psychology explain, there are social benefits to being a regular at a pub. Bars and pubs offer patrons a chance to relax outside their home with like-minded individuals at a shared place they all appreciate. This helps foster community, which in turn has a positive effect on overall happiness:
Friendship and community are probably the two most important factors influencing our health and well-being. 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.
Of course, pubs aren't the only place where building community is possible — churches, clubs and after-hours work events are all candidates as well — but the researchers note that pubs offer the opportunity for a little alcohol to grease the social wheels, as well as a shared space that's not devoted to a single task. Also, keep in mind that this research was sponsored by the Campaign For Real Ale, so this may not be a scientifically rigorous claim, but it's at least something that's worth discussing over a schooner.