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Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2012 Aug;20(4):318-24. doi: 10.1037/a0027480. Epub 2012 Feb 27.

Beyond self-reports: drinking motives predict grams of consumed alcohol in wine-tasting sessions.

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  • 1Addiction Info Switzerland, Lausanne, Switzerland.


The link between drinking motives and alcohol-related outcomes has been investigated extensively, yet almost exclusively using retrospective self-reports that are subject to recall bias. This study overcomes this limitation using an experimental design to test whether the 4 drinking-motive dimensions (social, enhancement, coping and conformity, as measured in the baseline questionnaire) predict the quantity of alcohol actually ingested during 2 wine-tasting sessions conducted approximately 3 and 7 weeks after the baseline motive assessment. Regression modeling was based on an analog measurement of grams of pure alcohol among 123 young adults. Self-reported data at baseline concurred with the data collected during the experimental sessions, that is, alcohol consumption was high for males and enhancement drinkers and low for conformity drinkers. Coping drinkers significantly increased their consumption between the first and second sessions, while social drinkers tended to decrease theirs. Yet when separately considering data recorded during the first session, none of the drinking motives predicted the amounts of alcohol actually consumed. To conclude, this study demonstrates that motives predict actual alcohol consumption, which is consistent with evidence-based self-reports. Particularly, enhancement and coping drinkers seem to take advantage of the drinking situation probably because they usually appreciate the psychoactive properties of alcohol, either to maximize pleasurable sensations or to alleviate negative ones. However, if the setting is unusual (first tasting session), situational characteristics may "overrule" the effect of personal motives.

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