Effect of alcohol and stress on emotion and physiological arousal

Thomas G. Burish, Stephen A. Maisto, Mariela C. Shirley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Forty-eight male normal drinkers were given a beverage to drink containing either tonic plus alcohol or tonic alone, and then were asked to perform arithmetic problems under either stressful or nonstressful conditions. Self-report measures of positive and negative affect and actual measures of physiological arousal (pulse rate and finger pulse volume) were collected at four times: baseline, ascending limb of the blood concentration BAC curve. Results indicated that (a) the stress manipulation was effective in increasing negative and actual physiological arousal, (b) subjects were more accurate in estimating the amount of alcohol they consumed under stressful than under nonstressful conditions, (c) alcohol was not effective in reducing the negative affect or physiological arousal produced by the stress, and (d) alcohol was effective in reducing negative affect and increasing positive affect under nonstressful conditions. These results support the growing body of research that suggests that alcohol produces a complex pattern of responses, one of which may be the enhancement of mood under nonstressful conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-159
Number of pages11
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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