Williams, R.J. (1999). Restrained Drinking and Cognitive Control Among

Adolescents. Adolescence, 34, 557-563.


The purpose of the study on restrained drinking was to look at restrained drinking and one’s self control in regards to alcohol consumption by adolescents. The rationale behind this unanswered question was to get to the root of the problem of adolescent drinking as the severity and frequency of teen drinking is on the rise. The purpose was to further explore the correlation between restrained drinking and the consumption of alcohol factoring in the want for self-control.

In the experiment a control or restraint was used to monitor and restrict the amount of alcohol consumed by adolescents. It was expected that enforcing a restraint would lead to binge drinking. There are two well-defined areas in providing a restraint. One is cognitive emotional preoccupation which centers around the preoccupation with control. The other aspect is cognitive behavioral control which is “actual attempts at control” (558). Recent studies have found that restraints and their outcomes closely relate to one’s overall self-control.


The participants of this study consisted of 97 male and 101 female adolescents from three high schools in Melbourne, Australia. The average age of the students was 16 years old.

There were several devices used in testing the hypothesis. One of the measures used was monitoring alcohol consumption in the average number of drinks in one sitting. Another valuable instrument used was The 24-item Adolescent Drinking Index. Students were asked to fill out a questionnaire measuring one’s loss of control in drinking, drinking related problems, psychological and physical indicators. The subjects were also asked to fill out The Temptation and Restraint Inventory which assessed attitudes and actions concerning restrained drinking. Finally, students evaluated The Cognitive Self-Control Scale, approximating their self-control.


The initial findings of the study showed that alcohol consumption was high for both males and females. However, male adolescents were more frequent in their drinking than were females. The results for restrained drinking were the same for both genders. This was that the greater levels of restrained drinking caused higher levels of alcohol consumption in adolescents. The more in depth findings showed that the higher the want for self-control, the cognitive emotional preoccupation, correlated with greater alcohol consumption. Actual attempts at control, the cognitive behavioral control, was not a significant indicator in the findings.

Discussion and Conclusion:

The results were consistent with other research concerning the gender gap of males drinking with greater frequency than females. The findings of this study, however, found that there are no gender discrepancies in the measurement of restrained drinking. The results found that in both sexes, those who wanted self-control and actually had less of it in their lives, were more effected by the restrained drinking and were more apt to have drinking problems. “The results of the present study indicate that practical skills to improve self-control need to be taught.” (563).

Word Count: 485

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