College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

Normal Drinkers' Alcohol Consumption as a Function of Conflicting Motives Induced By Intellectual Performance Stress

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1980

Keywords

Adolescent, Alcohol Drinking, Emotions, Ethanol, Stress

Publication Title

Addictive Behaviors

ISSN

0306-4603

Volume

5

Issue/No.

2

Abstract

Research on the determinants of human alcohol consumption suggests that the behavioral demands of stressful drinking contexts, in relation to persons' expectations of alcohol's effects, may produce variations in drinking patterns across qualitatively different situations, at least in normal drinkers. To investigate the extent to which the alcohol consumption of normal drinkers is determined by levels of stress and by their concerns to accommodate conflicting situational demands, 40 males were given free access to alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages both before and after exposure to either high or low levels of an intellectual performance stressor, which alcohol is commonly believed to disrupt. Subjects' initial knowledge of the post-task drinking opportunity (informed or uninformed) was also manipulated to determine if this knowledge facilitated variations in subjects' consumption patterns to accommodate the intellectual performance demands. Results showed that all high stress subjects drank more alcohol during both drinking periods than all low stress subjects, and all informed subjects drank less alcohol during the pre-task drinking period and more alcohol during post-task drinking period than all uninformed subjects. These combined findings suggest that while normal drinkers may be somewhat sensitive to situational demands in making their decisions to consume alcohol, they also appear to be responsive to the general level of stress induced by a particular drinking situation.

DOI

10.1016/0306-4603(80)90035-0