Refining Measurement in the Study of Social Anxiety and Student Drinking: Who You Are and Why You Drink Determines Your Outcomes


This study investigated inconsistencies in the literature regarding social anxiety and problematic drinking among college students. One hundred eighteen students (61% women) who experience anxiety in social or performance situations completed measures of social anxiety and a modified Timeline Followback that assessed the psychological context of drinking episodes and alcohol-related consequences. Results suggest that men who experience severe social anxiety drink less alcohol than men with lower levels of anxiety, whereas women high in social anxiety are likely to experience more alcohol-related consequences per drinking episode than women low in social anxiety, despite drinking similar amounts of alcohol. In addition, women with high social anxiety were found to experience more alcohol-related consequences than men with high social anxiety. These findings suggest that the inconsistencies noted in the literature on drinking to cope with social anxiety and alcohol-related consequences may reflect methodological differences and the failure to consider gender. © 2009 American Psychological Association.

Psychology of Addictive Behaviors