Decision Making in College Students from Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Families
Degree awarded: Ph.D. Psychology. American University
ABSTRACTThis observational study investigated whether poor performance on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) occurs in college students with risk factors for alcohol dependence and/or characteristics of various proposed types of alcohol use disorders. The recent alcohol use group had earlier onset of alcohol problems, more alcohol problems in the past year, impulsivity and illicit drug use than the no recent alcohol group, but these groups did not differ on decision making, psychopathy or family alcoholism history. Nearly all variables were significantly correlated, as expected. No significant correlation was found of family alcoholism history with any other variable, or of impulsivity with recent alcohol use. In the recent alcohol group, poor decision making was not significantly correlated with impulsivity, while in the no recent alcohol group, poor decision making was correlated with impulsivity and psychopathy, but not early alcohol problems or past year alcohol problems. Psychopathy was correlated with past-year alcohol problems among the full group and the recent alcohol use group but not among the no recent alcohol group. Exploratory cluster analysis was conducted on the full data. In the two cluster analysis, the cluster with the poorest decision making also had earlier onset of alcohol problems, and more psychopathy, impulsivity, past-year alcohol problems, and recent alcohol and drug use. In the three cluster solution, the group with most psychopathy had earliest alcohol problems, most alcohol problems in the past year, and most impulsivity, alcohol use and drug use, but had decision making near the mean. Neither the two or three cluster groups differed in family alcoholism history. Similarities were discussed between variable patterns in this sample and proposed typologies of alcoholism.
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