Current Psychology

, Volume 1, Issue 3–4, pp 235–249 | Cite as

Alcohol and volitional control on affect/sensation, cognitive and perceptual-motor measures

  • Stephen A. Maisto
  • Gerard J. Connors
  • Carol Ruff
  • Donnie Watson


The purpose of this experiment was to investigate the hypothesis that one factor underlying the effects of non-pharrnacological variables on a given response to alcohol is the ability to exert control over that behaviour while intoxicated. Subjects were 54 male non-alcoholic drinkers who were randomly assigned to one of six independent groups created by the factorial combination of the independent variables dose (placebo, low, or moderate) and instructions (no instructions or ‘act sober’). The main dependent measures were cognitive and motor task performance and self-reported affect and physiological sensations. Results showed that alcohol strongly influenced motor performance and self-reported physiological sensations but had only minor effects on affect and cognitive performance. Subjects who consumed the low dose of alcohol were able to counteract only alcohol's effects on reaction time and feelings of egotism. Despite the overall strong effects of alcohol on their behaviour, subjects in the act sober condi tions perceived that they were able to counteract the drug's effects, and this resul t was most pronounced among subjects who drank the low dose of alcohol. The implications of these findings for the effects of non-pharmacological factors on responses to alcohol and for the prevention and treatment of alcohol problems are discussed.


Moderate Dose Blood Alcohol Concentration Physiological Sensation Volitional Control Divided Attention Task 
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Copyright information

© Springer 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen A. Maisto
    • 1
  • Gerard J. Connors
    • 1
  • Carol Ruff
    • 1
  • Donnie Watson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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