The Effects of Alcohol on Relationship Satisfaction Kayla Green & Amanda Kellar Hanover College
Once Upon a Time… • There was a guy named Steve. Steve had a girlfriend named Sally and they loved drinking together with friends. On any given night Steve and Sally would be having a great time until something went wrong and they began to fight. Steve would then punch the wall and Sally would run out of the room crying. The next day Steve and Sally would say “I’m sorry, I love you, I was drunk”. • Where have you heard this story before? • Who here knows a Steve or Sally?
Drinking Relationship Satisfaction • Trust • Jealousy • Conflict and Aggression
Alcohol Myopia • An increase in jealousy, mistrust, and conflict between couples while drinking can be linked to alcohol myopia which is, “a lack of foresight or discernment: a narrow view of something [while drinking]” • (Hacker, 2011) • Explanation of how alcohol makes social responses more extreme. • (Steele and Josephs, 1990)
Jealousy • A cognitive, emotional, and behavioral response that occurs when the existence and/or quality of a person’s primary relationship is perceived as being threatened by a third party • (White&Mullen, 1989) • Alcohol consumption may increase the possibility of one-night stands or other unfaithful actions. On the perceivers end it could make them more likely to jump to conclusions and increase suspicion.
Trust • Trust defined using three factors • Predictability: The confidence you have in your partner’s ability to be reliable. • Dependability: The assurance you have in your partner in case of unforeseen potential hurt. • Faith: The feeling of certainty that your partner will be responsive and caring in the face of an uncertain future. • (Rempel et.al 1985)
Conflict • MacDonald et al. (1999) • Romantic partners randomly assigned to consume alcohol or not and then argue about a topic. • Intoxicated participants reported more negative emotion surrounding the conflict and a more negative perceptionof their partner’s feelings. Intoxicated participants also blamed their partners more for the conflict incident
Hypotheses • Higher levels of alcohol consumption will be found with lower levels of relationship satisfaction. • This relation will be mediated by jealousy, conflict, and mistrust.
Participants • Hanover College students currently in a relationship. • Every third student from the Hanover College population was randomly selected. • N= 70 total responses • Approximately 2 were omitted • Male: N=15 Female: N= 55
Method Overview • Recruit participants by email • Informed consent • Online survey (Labeled “College Experiences”) • Total number of questions: 46 • Demographics: 4 • Alcohol consumption: 4 • Jealousy: 12 • Conflict: 10 • Trust: 9 • Relationship Satisfaction: 7 • Debriefing form
Alcohol Consumption • Wechsler et al. (2002) • “What is the number of times you have drank alcohol in the last 2 weeks?” • “How many drinks do you typically have when you do drink?” • Calculated a measure of consumption based on (Frequency x Amount)
Jealousy Scale • Pfeiffer (1989) • “I suspect my partneris secretly seeing someone of the opposite sex.” • “I worry that someone of the opposite sex may be chasing after my partner.” • alpha = 0.85
Revised Conflict Scale • Straus et al. (1979) • “I respect my partner’s feelings.” (reversed) • “I have shouted at my partner.” • alpha = 0.66
Trust Scale • Rempel et al. (1985) • “My partner has proven to be trustworthy and I am willing to let him/her engage in activities which other partners find too threatening.” • “I am never certain that my partner won’t do something that I dislike or will embarrass me.” (reversed) • alpha = 0.83
Relationship Satisfaction Scale • Burns (1993) • “I am satisfied with the communication within my relationship.” • “I am satisfied with the openness within my relationship.” • alpha = 0.83
Mediation Analysis This is a way to test whether the relationship between two variables X and Y can be explained by a third variable M. (David Kenny, 2012)
Mediation Results ** p<.001 -.001 Trust 0.76** Alcohol Consumption Relationship Satisfaction .003 Jealousy .001 -.46 ** Alcohol Consumption Relationship Satisfaction .0031 Conflict .003 -.89 ** Alcohol Consumption Relationship Satisfaction .003
Limitations • The length of relationship was low. • College sample • The measure of alcohol consumption is limited by self-report. • Our questions were directed towards the opposite sex. Did not leave room for homosexual relationships. • Putting a time frame such as “in the last 2 weeks” may have hurt our data.
Future Direction • There may be a threshold or tipping point of alcohol consumption where it starts to negatively impact relationships. More participants who consume alcohol on a regular basis and in higher frequencies may deliver more compelling results.