Preference for Higher Sugar Concentrations and Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire Scores in Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic Men


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Abstract

Animal studies have shown a positive association between the consumption of high concentrations of sweet solutions and subsequent alcohol intake. In a previous clinical study, it was shown that a preference for a high (0.83 M) concentration of sucrose (sweet liking) is characteristic of alcoholics, compared with controls. The present study was designed to determine whether personality variables, reported to be associated with subtypes of alcoholism, differentiate sweet liking alcoholics from sweet liking controls. Fifty-two male controls and 26 alcoholic patients were tested for sweet preference and administered the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire. Sweet liking alcoholics scored significantly higher on the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire Novelty Seeking and Harm Avoidance scales and related subscales when compared with sweet liking controls. Further analysis showed that preferred sucrose concentration, Harm Avoidance score, and Novelty Seeking predicted alcoholic versus nonalcoholic group status at 65% sensitivity and 94% specificity, with a correct classification in 85% subjects. We hypothesize that sweet liking may identify a specific alcoholism subtype also characterized by high novelty seeking and high harm avoidance. These findings may have theoretical biological significance and practical clinical implications.

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