Are People Overoptimistic about the Effects of Heavy Drinking?

Journal Article (Journal Article)

We test whether heavy or binge drinkers are overly optimistic about probabilities of adverse consequences from these activities or are relatively accurate about these probabilities. Using data from a survey in eight cities, we evaluate the relationship between subjective beliefs and drinking. We assess accuracy of beliefs about several outcomes of heavy/binge drinking: reduced longevity, liver disease onset, link between alcohol consumption and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), probability of an accident after drinking, accuracy of beliefs about encountering intoxicated drivers on the road, and legal consequences of DWI-ranging from being stopped to receiving fines and jail terms. Overall, there is no empirical support for the optimism bias hypothesis. We do find that persons consuming a lot of alcohol tend to be more overconfident about their driving abilities and ability to handle alcohol. However, such overconfidence does not translate into over-optimism about consequences of high levels of alcohol consumption.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Sloan, FA; Eldred, LM; Guo, T; Xu, Y

Published Date

  • August 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 47 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 93 - 127

PubMed ID

  • 24058265

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3775361

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-0476

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0895-5646

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11166-013-9172-x


  • eng