Effects of alcohol on social anxiety in women: Cognitive versus physiological processes

David B. Abrams, G. Terence Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Randomly assigned 32 female social drinkers (18-25 yr old undergraduates) to 4 conditions in a 2 × 2 factorial design that controlled for drink content and expectations. Ss were administered either an alcoholic or a nonalcoholic beverage and were led to believe that their drinks contained or did not contain alcohol. After finishing their drinks Ss participated in a study of social anxiety in which they were requested to interact with a male confederate of the experimenter. Multiple measures, including heart rate, skin conductance, and overt behavioral and self-report responses, were recorded. Ss who expected alcohol showed significant elevations in physiological arousal and were rated as more anxious on observational measures of social behavior. Self-report measures failed to yield any differences among groups. Implications for the tension reduction theory of alcohol use and the importance of multiple response measures are discussed. (11/2 p ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-173
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1979
Externally publishedYes


  • drink content & expectations for alcoholic vs nonalcoholic beverages, social anxiety, female college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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