OBJECTIVE: Comparisons of alcoholic and control subjects have revealed
potential differences on a variety of personality tests. However, these
results are difficult to interpret because subgroups of alcoholic subjects
with antisocial personality disorder were often included in the overall
analyses, and because testing was usually carried out while alcoholic
subjects were in withdrawal. This article evaluates whether individuals'
personality test scores at approximately age 20 predict their risk of
subsequent development of alcohol abuse or dependence by about age 30.
METHOD: As part of a larger prospective study of sons of alcoholic and
control subjects, subsets of up to 78 subjects (39 matched pairs) out of a
sample of 223 men took various personality tests that included the Eysenck
Personality Inventory, subtests of the MMPI, and evaluations of locus of
control and anxiety. An average of more than 9 years later, the incidence
of alcohol abuse or dependence in these 223 subjects was determined by
structured interviews. RESULTS: The 55 men who subsequently went on to
develop alcohol abuse or dependence did not differ on any of the
personality tests from the 168 men who did not develop alcoholism.
CONCLUSIONS: These data are consistent with prospective studies indicating
that except for antisocial personality disorder, it is difficult to
identify a reliable personality profile associated with an individual's
risk of alcoholism.