Impaired conditional reasoning in alcoholics: a negative impact on social interactions and risky behaviors?
Article first published online: 7 MAR 2011
© 2011 The Authors, Addiction © 2011 Society for the Study of Addiction
Volume 106, Issue 5, pages 951–959, May 2011
How to Cite
Kornreich, C., Delle-Vigne, D., Knittel, J., Nerincx, A., Campanella, S., Noel, X., Hanak, C., Verbanck, P. and Ermer, E. (2011), Impaired conditional reasoning in alcoholics: a negative impact on social interactions and risky behaviors?. Addiction, 106: 951–959. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03346.x
- Issue published online: 8 APR 2011
- Article first published online: 7 MAR 2011
- Accepted manuscript online: 16 DEC 2010 08:01AM EST
- Submitted 8 March 2010; initial review completed 3 June 2010; final version accepted 8 December 2010
- conditional reasoning;
- emotional intelligence;
- precautionary rules;
- social contract;
- theory of mind;
Aims To study the ‘social brain’ in alcoholics by investigating social contract reasoning, theory of mind and emotional intelligence.
Design A behavioral study comparing recently detoxified alcoholics with normal, healthy controls.
Setting Emotional intelligence and decoding of emotional non-verbal cues have been shown to be impaired in alcoholics. This study explores whether these deficits extend to conditional reasoning about social contracts.
Participants Twenty-five recently detoxified alcoholics (17 men and eight women) were compared with 25 normal controls (17 men and eight women) matched for sex, age and education level.
Measurements Wason selection task investigating conditional reasoning on three different rule types (social contract, precautionary and descriptive), revised Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (modified version) and additional control measures.
Findings Conditional reasoning was impaired in alcoholics. Performance on descriptive rules was not above chance. Reasoning performance was markedly better on social contract and precautionary rules, but this performance was still significantly lower than in controls. Several emotional intelligence measures were lower in alcoholics compared to controls, but these were not correlated with reasoning performance.
Conclusions Conditional reasoning, including reasoning about social contracts and emotional intelligence appear to be impaired in alcoholics. Impairment seems to be particularly severe on descriptive rules. Impairment in social contract reasoning might lead to misunderstandings and frustration in social interactions, and reasoning difficulties about precautionary rules might contribute to risky behaviors in this population.