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J Stud Alcohol. 1997 Mar;58(2):191-9.

Two varieties of helping in drunk-driving intervention: personal and situational factors.

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Division of Counseling Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles 90089-0031, USA.



This study examined personal characteristics and contextual factors among college students who had made an attempt to prevent someone from driving drunk. The study was guided by findings from prior research and the arousal/cost-benefit model of helping. Both passive and assertive interventions and their efficacy were considered.


Questionnaire data were obtained from 388 students: 206 (68%) had intervened in a DUI situation (63% women). Self-reports of the person (e.g., moral obligation), the situation (e.g., perceived danger) and the type (passive, assertive) and success of the interventions were gathered.


Of all interventions used 73% were successful; the median number of interventions used was three. Of the assertive interventions used in DUI situations 57% were successful compared to 47% of the passive interventions. Path analyses revealed that being older relative to the intervenee and greater sobriety of the intervenor predicted more interventions of both types. Personal commitment to intervention, amount of perceived danger and less alcohol consumption increased assertive interventions, whereas talking with someone about the potential DUI person increased the number of passive interventions. The success of both passive and assertive interventions were dependent upon the number of each of these interventions used. However, the more passive interventions were attempted, the less likely the success of an assertive intervention.


The current findings extend our understanding of the psychosocial factors associated with informal DUI intervention, particularly concerning the choice and success of passive versus assertive interventions. Several of these significant predictors support laboratory research findings on helping and the arousal/cost-benefit model, while others do not.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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