Alcohol Use and Risky Behaviour: Evidence of Anxiolysis-Disinhibition from a Naturalistic Drinking Study

  •  Charlotte Gayson    
  •  Lucy Moss    
  •  Mark Moss    


Aims: Alcohol use and intoxication have been widely linked with the incidence of crime and antisocial behaviour. Reduced risk perception following alcohol consumption has been proposed as a possible reason for why people take part in such activities. This study aimed to identify if “intention to act” and “perception of risk” were similarly or differentially affected by alcohol consumed in a natural environment. Furthermore the relationship between amount consumed and degree of impact was investigated.

Design: A single factor independent groups design was employed.

Participants: 60 participants aged 18-23 were recruited.

Measures: Participants indicated their likelihood of engagement in a range of acts, and stated how risky they thought each behaviour was via a questionnaire.

Findings: Data analysis revealed a significant effect of alcohol group on reported likelihood of engagement such that likelihood increased with alcohol consumption. However, perceived risk was not subject to any effect, and increased intention to engage in a risky behaviour was not associated with a decreased perception of risk.

Conclusions: These results may provide support for an anxiolysis-disinhibition model of alcohol induced risky behaviour. Certainly the data indicate that cognitive appraisal of the behaviours is not impaired or related to increased engagement.

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