Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 59 Issue 3 (September 1986), Pages 209-304

Psychological vulnerability to alcoholism: Studies in internal scanning deficit (pages 237-244)

Three studies considered the predispositional role of impaired internal scanning in alcoholism. Scanning represents the person's sensitivity to internal stimulation and the extent to which the person utilizes internally generated information. The first study found that more acute alcoholic patients displayed poorer scanning than more chronic alcoholics. This finding contra‐indicates deficit scanning as an effect of alcoholism and suggests that this impairment antecedes the alcoholic disorder. Two further studies tested the possible antecedent status of deficit scanning. Adolescent wards of the juvenile court, judged to be more at risk for alcoholism, were poorer scanners than their counterparts with fewer drinking‐related problems. Male college students with a greater number of alcohol‐related problems also proved to be poorer scanners. It is proposed that limited scanning contributes to alcoholic vulnerability by depriving the person of information vital to the control of drinking behaviour.

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