Expectancies About Alcohol-Induced Motor Impairment Predict Individual Differences in Responses to Alcohol and Placebo

J Stud Alcohol. 1995 Jan;56(1):90-8. doi: 10.15288/jsa.1995.56.90.


Objective: Two experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that the amount of alcohol-induced impairment that a drinker expects will predict his response to alcohol and to placebo.

Method: Social drinkers (N = 81) were familiarized with a laboratory motor skill task before they rated the amount of impairment on the task that they expected from a moderate dose of alcohol. The degree of change in the subjects' performance was measured during an alcohol session and a subsequent session where alcohol was expected but a placebo was received.

Results: Subjects who expected greater impairment displayed poorer performance under alcohol (0.35 g/kg) and under placebo.

Conclusions: This evidence calls attention to the importance of expectancies as a factor that may contribute to the understanding of individual differences in behavior under alcohol and a placebo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Knowledge of Results, Psychological
  • Male
  • Orientation / drug effects
  • Placebo Effect
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*
  • Set, Psychology*


  • Ethanol