Alcohol's effects on sexual decision making: An integration of alcohol myopia and individual differences

Kelly Cue Davis, Christian S. Hendershot, William H. George, Jeanette Norris, Julia R. Heiman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Objective: We conducted an experiment to test the applicability of integrating individual perceptions of unprotected sex consequences with alcohol's myopic effects as an explanatory framework for risky sexual decision making in young heterosexual men and women. Method: Male and female participants (N = 61) rated their perceptions of unprotected sex consequences, received alcoholic (target breath alcohol concentration = .10%) or nonalcoholic drinks, and completed a risky sexual decision-making task that included a quantitative measure of sexual decision-making cue attention. Results: Intoxicated participants were more attentive to impelling cues and reported greater sexual risk intentions than sober participants. Mediational analyses indicated that attention to cues fully mediated the alcohol-sexual risk intention relationship. Moderational analyses revealed that alcohol's focusing effect acts in conjunction with pre-existing individual perceptions to influence cue salience directly and sexual risk intentions indirectly. Conclusions: Findings demonstrate the importance of examining predispositional tendencies when investigating alcohol myopia as a mediating mechanism underlying the alcohol-risky sex relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)843-851
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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