Women's drinking decisions in sexually risky situations: Effects of a low level of intoxication

Nora E. Noel, Karen A. Daniels, Richard L. Ogle, Stephen A. Maisto, Jackson Lee A., Sarah J. Ehlke, Mallorie G. Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Alcohol administration studies assessing alcohol's deleterious effects on women's threat perception and response in potential sexual assault situations usually employ a moderate to high dose (.07% BAC or more) and measure alcohol's effects specifically on women's sexual decisions. The current study used a low dose (.03%, equivalent to about 1-2 drinks) to assess women's projected decisions on a different risky behavior: decisions to continue drinking and to drink higher amounts in a series of ecologically-valid sexual risk situations. Methods: Young adult women (. n=. 17; M age. =. 21.8, SD. =. 1.3, range 21-25) participated in a three-session double-blind within subjects 2 (type of scenario). ×. 3( beverage) experiment, responding each time to 6 vignettes with an attractive man who was either Familiar or had Just Met her. In each session participants consumed a beverage (alcohol, placebo or water, random order) and projected emotional reactions and drinking decisions (likelihood and amount) in each of the 6 scenarios. Results: Regardless of beverage, women predicted greater happiness, drinking likelihood, and drinking amount with "Familiar" men. However, there was also an interaction: they projected increased subsequent amounts in the .03% BAC (vs. water and placebo) condition differentially in the "Familiar" scenarios. Conclusion: When the woman is Familiar with the man in a risky sexual situation, just one drink may increase subsequent projected alcohol amount over that originally intended. Implications include a low dose as a possible prime for more drinking, increasing sexual assault risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-65
Number of pages5
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Alcohol administration
  • Scenarios
  • Unwanted sex
  • Young adult women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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