Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Fifty adult children of alcoholics (ACAs) and 50 non-ACAs in an undergraduate college student sample were compared on standardized measures of emotional functioning, alcohol consumption, academic achievement, and cognitive ability. A 2 (parental alcoholism status) X 2 (gender) multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was performed on each of the four categories of dependent variables. The MANOVAs were followed by univariate analyses of variance (ANOVAs) to determine which variables contributed to the multivariate effect.

With respect to emotional functioning, differences between ACAs and non-ACAs were found for males but not females. Male ACAs reported significantly more current anxiety and long-standing anxiety than male controls.

Males, regardless of their family history, reported a significantly greater annual consumption of alcohol than females. The reporting of greater levels of alcohol consumption by male ACAs than male controls approached significance (p = .056). Even though female ACAs did not differ from female controls in their levels of alcohol consumption, they, like male ACAs, reported more negative consequences from alcohol use than controls.

Significant differences were found on two of the five academic achievement measures. Controls performed better than ACAs on the WRAT3 Arithmetic subtest. On the WRAT3 Reading subtest, male controls performed better than male ACAs'. However, ACAs' performance on the WRAT3 Arithmetic and Reading subtests was well within the average range.

The analysis of the cognitive ability measures, consisting of six WAIS-R subtests, revealed primarily gender rather than group differences. Males obtained higher scores than females on the Arithmetic and Block Design subtests. Females obtained a higher score than males on the Digit Symbol Substitution subtest. One group difference did occur; ACAs performed better on the Picture Arrangement subtest than controls. While ACAs' better performance on this subtest is perhaps indicative of a greater social awareness, it does not provide evidence of better social adjustment.

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