A test of heightened external responsiveness in an alcoholic population

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In an effort to extend S. Schachter's stimulus-bound hypothesis from obesity to alcoholism, comparisons among 45 alcoholic, obese, and nonalcoholic normal-weight outpatients at a VA hospital were made on 4 measures of externality. It was predicted that alcoholics and obese persons would be significantly more responsive to external stimuli than control Ss, and alcoholics and obese persons would not differ significantly from each other. The predictions were confirmed on 2 measures, 1 of which (a reaction time task) was a replication from Schachter and J. Rodin (1974). The methodological adequacy of the other 2 tests is questioned, especially with respect to their validity in measuring externality. Results lend some support to the hypothesis that alcoholics, like the obese, exhibit a differential reliance on external and internal cues. The implications of heightened external responsiveness for understanding craving and loss of control, 2 defining symptoms of alcoholism, and recent treatment strategies are discussed. (36 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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