Tipsy thinking

Photo by Flickr user rpeschetz. Click for sourceSeed Magazine has a great short article on misperceptions and counter-intuitive findings concerning alcohol and drinking.

The piece covers whether alcohol break-down product acetaldehyde plays as much a part in drunkenness as alcohol itself, misperceptions about the chances of women having their drink spiked to facilitate sexual assault, and mothers’ perceptions about their kids future drinking patterns.

Alcohol is so embedded in most cultures that perceptions and reality intermix in surprising ways. Last week psychologist Polly Palumbo discussed a 2008 study about mothers’ beliefs about their own kids’ drinking. You might think that if mothers were concerned about their young children becoming drinkers in high school, they might be more successful in preventing some of the kids from actually engaging in underage drinking. In fact, the study, led by Stephanie Madon and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found the opposite. Mothers who worried their children might become drinkers had kids that were significantly more likely to drink.

The researchers are careful to point out that the study is just a correlation; we can’t say that the mothers’ belief about drinking is what caused their kids to drink. But because the study was administered over several years, it’s better than many correlational studies: We know the belief preceded the drinking, so it’s pretty much impossible that the kids’ drinking behavior itself led to the belief.

Link to Seed article ‘A Sober Assessment’.

2 thoughts on “Tipsy thinking”

  1. “We know the belief preceded the drinking, so it‚Äôs pretty much impossible that the kids‚Äô drinking behavior itself led to the belief.”
    That seems to be missing the point. To me these results, as presented here, say nothing more than that the mothers who worry the most also are the ones who ought to worry the most, aware as they probably are of the social and genetical heritage they’re passing on. Nothing surprising in that, unless you think that parental worry _in itself_ would protect the kids from drinking.
    But I’m probably missing something?
    Btw, you write “Discover Magazine” at the top but it seems to be “Seed Magazine”..?

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