Alcohol Breeds Empty Goal Commitments

A. Timur Sevincer, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


According to alcohol-myopia theory (C.M. Steele & R.A. Josephs, 1990), alcohol leads individuals to disproportionally focus on the most salient aspects of a situation and to ignore peripheral information. The authors hypothesized that alcohol leads individuals to strongly commit to their goals without considering information about the probability of goal attainment. In Study 1, participants named their most important interpersonal goal, indicated their expectations of successfully attaining it, and then consumed either alcohol or a placebo. In contrast to participants who consumed a placebo, intoxicated participants felt strongly committed to their goals despite low expectations of attaining them. In Study 2, goal-directed actions were measured over time. Once sober again, intoxicated participants with low expectations did not follow up on their strong commitments. Apparently, when prospects are bleak, alcohol produces empty goal commitments, as commitments are not based on individuals' expectations of attaining their goals and do not foster goal striving over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-633
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • alcohol
  • expectations
  • goal commitment
  • goal striving
  • placebo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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