Decision making in altered states: effects of alcohol on attitudes toward drinking and driving

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1995 Jun;68(6):973-85. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.68.6.973.


A laboratory experiment and 2 field studies tested the hypothesis that alcohol affects attitudes and intentions toward drinking and driving. Sober and intoxicated participants completed a questionnaire assessing their attitudes and intentions to drink and drive in a number of situations. Results indicated that when asked general or noncontingent questions, sober and intoxicated participants were equally negative about this behavior. However, when a contingency was embedded in the question (e.g., "would you drink and drive only a short distance?"), intoxicated participants were significantly less negative about drinking and driving. These results are consistent with alcohol myopia (C. M. Steele & R. A. Josephs, 1990)--the notion that alcohol intoxication decreases cognitive capacity so that people are more likely to attend to only the most salient cues.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / psychology*
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Attitude*
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Decision Making / drug effects*
  • Ethanol / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation


  • Ethanol