Facing temptation in the bar: counteracting the effects of self-control failure on young adults' ad libitum alcohol intake

Authors

  • Roy Otten,

    Corresponding author
    1. Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
    • Correspondence to: Roy Otten, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, PO Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, the Netherlands. E-mail: r.otten@bsi.ru.nl

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  • Mira B. Cladder-Micus,

    1. Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
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    • Mira B. Cladder-Micus, J. Loes Pouwels, Maximillian Hennig, and Angela A.T. Schuurmans contributed equally to this work.
  • J. Loes Pouwels,

    1. Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
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    • Mira B. Cladder-Micus, J. Loes Pouwels, Maximillian Hennig, and Angela A.T. Schuurmans contributed equally to this work.
  • Maximilian Hennig,

    1. Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
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    • Mira B. Cladder-Micus, J. Loes Pouwels, Maximillian Hennig, and Angela A.T. Schuurmans contributed equally to this work.
  • Angela A. T. Schuurmans,

    1. Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
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    • Mira B. Cladder-Micus, J. Loes Pouwels, Maximillian Hennig, and Angela A.T. Schuurmans contributed equally to this work.
  • Roel C. J. Hermans

    1. Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
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Abstract

Background and Aims

The self-control strength model suggests that exertion of self-control leads to poorer subsequent self-control performance. Failure of self-control has been suggested as an important underlying mechanism of excessive drinking. This study tested the effects of self-control failure on ad libitum drinking, and the potential moderating role of glucose and self-awareness on this relationship.

Design

The current research examined in two experiments whether the effects of self-control failure were different for males and females, and whether glucose (experiment 1) and self-awareness (experiment 2) would counteract the effects of self-control failure. A between-participants design with four conditions was employed in each experiment.

Setting

A semi-naturalistic drinking setting in the form of a laboratory bar.

Participants

Undergraduate students recruited at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands (experiment 1: n = 106; experiment 2: n = 108).

Measurements

The total amount of alcohol consumed during an experimental break (observational data) and questionnaire data on drinking patterns.

Findings

Self-control failure led to increased levels of drinking in males (P < 0.05), whereas females drank less after being depleted (P < 0.01). Self-awareness, but not glucose, was found to counteract the effects of self-control failure among males (P < 0.05).

Conclusions

Self-control failure leads to increased drinking of alcohol in males and decreased levels of drinking alcohol in females. However, increasing self-awareness appears to be a promising strategy in facing the temptation to drink when cognitive resources to inhibit intake are low.

Ancillary