Alcohol self-presentation: the role of impression motivation and impression construction


  • Author's Notes: This article is based on the author's dissertation at Colorado State University. Preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by grant T32-AA007290 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to the University of Connecticut Health Center. Special thanks are due to the author's dissertation committee and others for their helpful comments including Jennifer J. Harman, Patricia Aloise-Young, Kimberly Henry, Anne Cleary, Marilee Long, Kristina Wilson, and Jerry Cullum.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Megan A. O'Grady, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 633 Third Ave, New York, NY 10017. E-mail:


Two studies examined impression motivation (IM) and impression construction (IC) processes in college freshman alcohol use. In both studies, students completed individual difference measures related to IM and alcohol IC. In Study 1 (n = 232), participants were assigned to IM (low vs. high) and IC (alcohol vs. control) conditions and then created a personal profile. In Study 2 (n = 65), participants reported levels of IM and alcohol IC, and number of drinks during each evening's social interactions for 3 weeks. Situational alcohol IC was positively related to whether participants presented themselves as an alcohol user in their profile (Study 1) and in the amount they drank (Study 2). In Study 2, the association between IC and drinking was moderated by IM.