You’ve probably heard it before, the “Lazy Stoner” stereotype. It’s been used for years, but where’s the proof? Well as it turns out, recent research has proven this belief to be completely made up... again.
TV and film have always played up and characterised the role of the lazy stoner. Films like Dazed and Confused or Pineapple Express are two examples of this. Now that doesn’t mean these are bad films. But characters like “The Dude” form The Big Lebowski don’t exactly sell the cannabis consumer lifestyle. However TV and film aren’t reality.
Scientists from UCL, The University of Cambridge, and King’s College London (institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience) recently conducted research into this age-old myth. The data showed one conclusion;
“Cannabis users no less likely to be motivated or able to enjoy life’s pleasure” - King's College London report.
With those who consumed cannabis regularly actually scoring lower in anhedonia (meaning they were better able to enjoy themselves) and their daily cannabis consumption had no difference when it came to apathy. A shock to even the researchers.
Martine Skumlien, a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, said: “We were surprised to see that there was really very little difference between cannabis users and non-users when it came to lack of motivation or lack of enjoyment, even among those who used cannabis every day. This is contrary to the stereotypical portrayal we see on TV and in movies.”
- Seth Rogan is known for his roles as a "typical stoner" and Michael Phelps, an Olympic medal winning athlete, both consume cannabis.
This research was part of the CannTEEN study, a group investigating several different cannabis questions. One of the topics they investigated was, “whether cannabis users show higher levels of apathy (loss of motivation), anhedonia (loss of interest in or pleasure from rewards) when compared to controls, and whether they were less willing to exert physical effort to receive a reward.”
On top of assessing these psychological elements they had a number of participants carry out behavioural tasks. Designed to asses physical effort, participants were given the option to preform button-presses at varying difficulties in order to earn points. These points could then be redeemed for chocolates or sweets that they could take home.
Another task allowed researchers to measure how much pleasure participants received from rewards. The participants were first told to estimate how much they wanted to receive each of three rewards. A choice of 30 seconds from a favourite song, a piece of chocolate or candy, or a £1 coin, they were then asked to rate them on a scale from ‘do not want’ to ‘intensely want’. Following that they received each reward and were again asked to rate the rewards, this time from ‘do not like at all’ to ‘intensely like’.
Researchers found no difference between users and non-users. These results backed up other studies that also found, that there is no difference in either physical effort tasks or real reward pleasure tasks.