Self-awareness, alcohol consumption, and reduced cardiovascular reactivity

R. Niaura, G. T. Wilson, E. Westrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Seventy-two healthy males were divided into Type A and Type B groups using the Jenkins Activity Survey. Subjects were subdivided further into high and low self-awareness categories on the private self-consciousness factor of the Self-Consciousness Scale. After random assignment to consume alcohol (0.85 g/kg) or a placebo, subjects were exposed to four stressors presented at random: a self-disclosing speech, aversive noise, insoluble anagrams, and mental arithmetic. Blood pressure, heart rate, and finger pulse amplitude were monitored throughout. Among the major findings was increased systolic blood pressure (BP) reactivity during the speech among Type As low in private self-consciousness. Alcohol dampened autonomic responsiveness only in this group. When self-involvement was measured as the ratio of first-person pronouns to total words spoken during the speech, sober Type As displayed a strong correlation between self-references and SBP reactions during the speech and arithmetic tasks. Alcohol attenuated the correlation, resulting in SBP response dampening, but it did not affect pronoun use. These results have implications for the study of individual differences in cardiovascular reactivity, sensitivity to alcohol effects, and the relation of alcohol consumption to coronary heart disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-380
Number of pages21
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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