The relationship between personality type and style of alcohol use

John Robert Corbisiero, Fordham University


There have been a multitude of studies which have attempted to identify characteristics of the "alcoholic personality" in a way that distinguishes alcoholics from nonalcoholics. However, it is now generally recognized that there is no one personality pattern that is shared by all alcoholics; rather, there appear to be qualitatively and quantitatively different types of alcohol-dependent persons. The purpose of this research was to investigate further and substantiate personality subtypes that have been identified as falling under the category of "alcoholism", as well as exploring the relationship between these personality characteristics and alcoholic attitudes and behaviors. Two hundred fifty male alcoholics in inpatient treatment in the VA system were administered two assessment instruments: the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI), a personality inventory with special reference for DSM-III diagnostic categories, and the Alcohol Use Inventory (AUI), a self-report inventory that measures attitudes towards and perceived benefits and consequences of drinking behaviors. A cluster analysis, based on the scales of the MCMI, yielded three clusters: cluster 1 was the smallest (n = 24), and was described by the least overall pathology on the clinical scales. Cluster 2 (n = 58) was characterized by significant elevations on Antisocial, Narcissistic, and Paranoid personality scales, and high scores on both Drug Abuse and Alcohol Abuse scales. Cluster 3 was the largest (n = 165), and presented a personality pattern highlighted by Avoidant, Schizoid, Dependent, and Passive-Aggressive features; members of this group also had significant elevations on Anxiety, Dysthymia, and Alcohol Abuse scales. Comparisons of the clusters on their scores on the AUI yielded widespread differences, with members of cluster 1 having less overall alcohol involvement and impairment than those in clusters 2 and 3, who reported more severe patterns and consequences of abuse. Other significant differences among the clusters were identified, and implications for treatment and future research were discussed.

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Recommended Citation

Corbisiero, John Robert, "The relationship between personality type and style of alcohol use" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8809466.