Effects of family drinking history and expectancies on responses to alcohol in men

S. S. O'Malley, Stephen A Maisto

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The effects of family drinking history and expectancies on responses to alcohol were studied in men nonproblem drinkers aged 19-30. A total of 24 subjects who reported a history of parental alcoholism (FH+) were compared with matched controls who did not have such a family history (FH-) on their responses to drinking either a placebo beverage, a low dose of alcohol or a high dose of alcohol. Despite comparable levels of tolerance and blood alcohol levels (BALs), FH- subjects reported higher levels of intoxication, behavioral impairment, anesthesia and central stimulation than FH+ subjects, regardless of the dose consumed. In contrast, FH+ subjects did more poorly on a timed motor task. There were no significant differences between the two groups on their self-reported beliefs about the effects of alcohol. However, multiple-regression analyses showed that BAL accounted for a greater percentage of the variance in the self-report data of FH- subjects, whereas expectancies were more predictive for the FH+ subjects. The results suggest that FH+ subjects did not base their evaluations of the effects of alcohol as closely on the internal and external consequences of intoxication. This finding is discussed as being one component of their heightened risk for developing alcoholism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-297
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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