Social Imitation of Alcohol Consumption and Ingratiation Motives in Young Adults

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Across 2 studies we tested the hypothesis that social ingratiation motives may be an important factor explaining social imitation of alcohol consumption. In Study 1, participants drank alcohol with a heavy versus light drinking confederate under conditions that were designed to heighten or reduce (participants believed they would not be judged) motivation for ingratiation. In Study 2 we manipulated the degree to which participants believed they had already successfully ingratiated themselves with a heavy or no (alcohol) drinking confederate. In Study 1, participants’ alcohol consumption was most strongly influenced by the confederate’s drinking behavior when they believed that they would later be judged by the confederate. In Study 2, participants’ alcohol consumption was influenced by the confederate’s drinking behavior and this effect was particularly pronounced if participants were unsure if the confederate had accepted them. The desire for social ingratiation may in part explain why people imitate the drinking behavior of those around them.

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