According to a study led by Christopher J. Armitage of the Department of Psychology at the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, United Kingdom, individuals who engage in self-affirmations consume less alcohol than those who do not. Armitage and his colleagues enlisted 93 men and 185 women, all between the ages of 18 and 55, for their study. They participants were told that they would be involved in a study evaluating social and personal beliefs and were asked to fill out a private questionnaire at the beginning of the study and again one month later. The participants were divided into groups, the first of which was told to choose their response to threatening situation from one of four positive and self-affirming scenarios. The second group, which served as the control, received a distractor task. Each group was questioned about their alcohol use and specific demographic data was gathered.
“The key finding was that self-affirmation, regardless of mode of delivery, was effective in reducing alcohol intake by facilitating the processing of health-risk information,” said the team. “By the end of the study, participants in the two self-affirmation conditions drank on average 8 fewer grams of pure alcohol compared with participants in the control condition, and crucially, were much more likely to be drinking “in moderation” (i.e., within government-recommended levels), which is the point at which health benefits might start to accrue.” The researchers added “Consistent with a growing body of research on the impact of self-affirmation on the processing of threatening health messages, the present study showed that despite perceiving more threat and engaging in greater defensive avoidance, people who were self-affirmed were less likely to derogate the message and were more likely to regard the message as being of high quality and to engage in more positive reactions to the message.”
Armitage, Christopher J., Peter R. Harris, and Madelynne A. Arden. “Evidence That Self-affirmation Reduces Alcohol Consumption: Randomized Exploratory Trial with a New, Brief Means of Self-affirming.” Health Psychology 30.5 (2011): 633-41. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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