Misattribution of ethanol intoxication

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4 Scopus citations


Although studies indicate that cognitive variables are sufficient to influence intoxication experiences, the potential for interplay between physiological and cognitive influences remains intuitively appealing. To test the hypothesis that the interoceptive events caused by alcohol consumption can be attributed to nonalcoholic stimuli, subjects were given a placebo medication. Instructions led subjects to believe that the placebo had effects either similar or dissimilar to alcohol or no effects. Low or moderate doses of ethanol were used. Attribution of physiological sensations to the placebo, perceptions of impairment and mood state were assessed 20, 40, and 60 minutes after completion of the drink. Forthy-eight nonalcoholic male students participated in the study. Misattribution to the placebo was greatest at the lower dose and with increasing time. The manipulation of instructions did not affect the degree of misattribution. However, individuals instructed to expect side effects from the placebo perceived significantly less impairment than participants who did not expect side effects. Both similar and dissimilar side effects affected perceptions of impairment. The implications of these data for cognitive and cognitive- pharmacological theories of intoxication are examined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-375
Number of pages7
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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