Drunk Personality: Reports From Drinkers and Knowledgeable Informants

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Abstract

Existing literature supports the five-factor model (FFM) of personality (i.e., Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Intellect or Openness) as a comprehensive representation of stable aspects of mood, affect, and behavior. This study evaluated the FFM as a framework for both self-perceptions of drunkenness (i.e., individual changes in mood, affect, and behavior associated with one’s own intoxication), as well “drinking buddies’” perceptions of their friends’ drunkenness (i.e., changes in mood, affect, and behavior associated with friends’ intoxication) and the association of reported sober-to-drunk differences with negative alcohol-related consequences. College-student drinkers (N = 374; 187 drinking buddy pairs) reported on their sober and drunk levels of the 5 factors, as well as those of their drinking buddies. Buddies completed parallel assessments for themselves and their friends to ensure rater agreement. All participants completed assessments of harmful alcohol outcomes experienced within the past year. Regardless of reporter, differences between drunken and sober states were found across all 5 factors and agreement between self and informant reports was consistently significant and comparable across sober and drunk conditions. Low levels of drunk Conscientiousness and drunk Emotional Stability were associated with experiencing more alcohol-related consequences, even when controlling for sober factor levels and binge-drinking frequency. Findings support the use of the FFM as a clinically relevant framework for organizing differences in personality expression associated with intoxication and the validity of self-reports of drunk personality.

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