Examination of judgments of drunkenness, binge drinking, and drunk- driving tendencies in teens with and without a family history of alcohol abuse

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Abstract

Background: The present study examined judgment processes of individuals with and without a family history of alcohol abuse. Despite the alarming statistics involving alcohol-related consequences in this population, very little is known about what judgment processes they use or how beneficial these processes are at preventing intoxication and alcohol-related consequences. Methods: Participants were 270 individuals, 16-18 years old, screened on the basis of the history of family alcohol abuse. Individuals were asked to (1) make judgments of drunkenness in relation to the legal limits in response to factorially manipulated external cues on number of drinks, time taken to consume, and type of beverage, using the methodology of Jaccard and Turrisi (1987), and (2) answer several questions regarding their alcohol-related behaviors. Results: Our results indicated that individuals with a positive family history of alcohol abuse were more likely to make judgmental errors and underestimate their drunkenness relative to individuals without a positive family history of alcohol abuse. Moreover, the errors in judgments were more pronounced in situations involving moderate to heavy alcohol consumption. Finally, family history was found to moderate the relationship between underestimation errors and drinking, and drinking and driving tendencies. For individuals with a positive family history of alcohol abuse, the more they tended to underestimate their drunkenness, the more likely they were to binge drink and drive after drinking. Conclusions: The findings suggest that judgmental errors tend to be an important process variable in the relationship between family history and alcohol-related behavioral tendencies. The findings are discussed with respect to potential behavioral antecedents (e.g., student binge drinking) and development of prevention programs geared toward training students to make more accurate judgments, using external cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1191-1198
Number of pages8
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume23
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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