Intragroup differences in drinking patterns between male alcoholics in arousal mode and stimulus screening ability

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Herbert Dandes - Committee Chair


Research in the area of alcoholism suggests that there are different patterns of drinking among alcoholics (continuous and episodic), and that there may be personality differences between these groups. The variables of arousal mode and stimulus screening ability have been suggested to be associated with alcoholism and may be variables which contribute to the differences between the alcoholic subtypes.The purpose of this study was (1) to examine whether there are differences between continuous versus episodic male alcoholics on arousal mode and stimulus screening ability, and (2) the relationship between the variables of arousal mode and stimulus screening ability in an alcoholic population.It was expected that continuous drinkers would show high arousability and low stimulus screening ability, and that episodic drinkers would show low arousability and high stimulus screening ability. The second hypothesis predicted a negative relationship between the variables of arousal mode and stimulus screening ability.Subjects were male alcoholics participating in inpatient programs for substance abuse. Subjects were screened to rule out organic impairment and/or less than average intelligence using the Shipley-Institute of Living Scale. They completed the ALCEVAL, a substance abuse history questionnaire, and an interview to determine drinking pattern. Subjects also completed the Arousal Seeking and the Stimulus Screening Questionnaires, (Mehrabian 1973, 1977).One tailed t-tests were used to test the first hypothesis. No significant differences were found between continuous and episodic drinkers on arousal mode or stimulus screening ability.To test the second hypothesis, a Pearson product-moment correlation was used. No significant association between the variables of arousal mode and stimulus screening ability was found.Explanations considered for these findings were: (1) The theory was invalid, (2) The variables chosen to represent the differences between the types of drinkers may not have been representative of variability between the groups, (3) There may be more intragroup heterogeneity that was not represented in the theoretical model, and (4) the instruments used to assess the physiological variables were not sensitive enough to be effectively used on this population.


Psychology, General

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