Associations between abstainer, moderate and heavy drinker prototypes and drinking behaviour in young adults

Britt Van Lettow, H de Vries, Lex Burdorf, P Norman, Pepijn Empelen

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Previous research has focused mostly on abstainer and/or general drinker prototypes. The present studies examined an abstainer, moderate drinker and heavy drinker prototype in relation to drinking behaviour.Design: Two studies among young adults aged 18-25 (paper-and-pencil, cross-sectional, N=140; online, prospective, N=451) assessed prototype favourability and participants' perceived similarity to the prototypes. Participants were also categorised into abstainers, moderate, and heavy drinkers.Results: Similarity and favourability had similar sequences in both studies: the moderate drinker and abstainer prototypes were evaluated most favourable and felt similar to; the heavy drinker prototype was rated the least favourable and felt similar to. Importantly, heavy drinking participants felt most similar to the moderate drinker prototype and rated the heavy drinker least desirable. The results suggest a need for research to include other prototypes, such as the moderate drinker, besides the abstainer and heavy drinker.Conclusion: The studies provide insights into the contribution of alternative prototypes (i.e. moderate drinker) into the relationship between prototype perceptions and drinking behaviour. The results suggest tailoring prototype-based interventions according to drinking behaviour. Importantly, realistic perceived similarity to the more favourable moderate drinker prototype may therefore need to be encouraged only after appropriate reductions in heavy drinkers' alcohol consumption.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1407-1423
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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