COGNITIVE EFFECTS OF HEAVY SOCIAL DRINKING IN FIRST-YEAR FEMALE COLLEGE STUDENTS

CHARLES JOSEPH CORLISS, Fordham University

Abstract

Research in the field of alcoholism (e.g., Goldman, 1983) has documented that chronic alcoholics frequently display impairments of cognitive abilities due to continuous ingestion of alcohol. An extension of this research involves a group of current reports (e.g., Parker & Noble, 1977) that have found modest correlations between drinking patterns of social drinkers, and performance on certain neuropsychological tests: with test scores decreasing as drinking frequency, duration of heavy drinking, and/or the amount of alcohol consumed per occasion increase.^ The current report contributed to this work on social drinking by controlling for previously uncontrolled variables: age, sex, SES, and education. Standard neuropsychological instruments were individually administered by author. In addition, subjects who had a history of neurological or serious psychological difficulties, and those who were currently depressed were not included in the study.^ Eighty female, first-year college students between the ages 17.83 and 20.08 years were employed. Half (n = 40) were classified as Heavy Social Drinkers (utilizing Cahalan, Cisin, and Crossley, 1969, Quantity-Frequency-Variability criteria), and half were classed as either Abstainers or Infrequent Drinkers (using the same criteria).^ One-way analysis of variance procedures, correlational and (chi)('2) analyses, and a student's t-test were performed. Contrary to hypotheses, yet similar to all research in this field to date, the drinking groups did not differ significantly on any of the dependent measures utilizing ANOVA. In addition, no predicted significant correlations emerged between drinking variables and test scores. Lastly, further analyses found that WAIS-R Vocabulary Score correlated more strongly with the dependent measures than any of the drinking indices (thus raising the issue of the centrality of pre-experimental intellectual functioning of subjects as a critical variable).^ Based on the results of the study, the author made several recommendations for future research: match for age, sex, SES, and general intelligence; upgrade Cahalan's definition of Heavy Social Drinker to make it more rigorous; screen out depressed and anxious subjects; and compensate all subjects uniformly.^ The author concluded that much more research needs to be done in this area before any conclusions can be drawn. ^

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

CORLISS, CHARLES JOSEPH, "COGNITIVE EFFECTS OF HEAVY SOCIAL DRINKING IN FIRST-YEAR FEMALE COLLEGE STUDENTS" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8615740.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8615740

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