The Influence of Family Factors on the Executive Functioning of Adult Children of Alcoholics in College*


  • *

    We would like to thank Dr. Robert M. Roth and Dr. Peter K. Isquith, Dartmouth Medical School and Dr. Gerard A. Gioia, George Washington University School of Medicine for their assistance in the initial stages of the study.

**Valarie M. Schroeder is a research associate in the Department of Community Health, Lifespan Health Research Center, Wright State University, 3171 Research Boulevard, Kettering, OH 45420 (

Michelle L. Kelley is a professor of the Department of Psychology at the Old Dominion University, College of Sciences, Norfolk, VA 23529-0267 (


Abstract: This study examined executive functioning in college aged adult children of alcoholics (ACOAs; n = 84) and non-ACOAs (188). We examined whether characteristics of the family environment and family responsibility in one’s family of origin were associated with executive functioning above the contribution of ACOA status. ACOAs reported more difficulty regulating behavior related to executive functioning but comparable metacognitive abilities to non-ACOAs. Family environment contributed to behavioral and metacognitive regulation above the contribution of group (ACOA/non-ACOA). These findings suggest that ACOAs may be at greater risk for experiencing difficulty in higher order processes related to behavioral regulation. For both ACOA and non-ACOA college students, one’s family of origin environment appears related to higher order processes, suggesting the need for interventions aimed at improving executive functioning for vulnerable students.