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The carrot or the stick: Do partner regulation strategies predict changes in drinking?

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Lindsey M. Rodriguez

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Heavy drinking during marriage can be problematic, and partners may engage in strategies to regulate their partner’s drinking Generally, negative social control strategies (e g , pressuring, punishing) are met with reduced success as compared to positive strategies (e g , encouragement, modeling) The present research examined whether regulation strategies aimed at changing a partner’s drinking resulted in reduced partner drinking Married couples (N=123 dyads) completed surveys over six months, including measures of alcohol use/problems and strategies to change their spouse’s drinking Dyadic growth curve analyses included actor and partner punishment and reward as moderators of changes (i e , slope) in drinking Results showed that punishing one’s partner for drinking resulted in increases in the partner’s alcohol-related problems over time Conversely, reward resulted in subsequent decreases in the partner’s alcohol-related problems Results suggest that all attempts to change a partner’s drinking are not equal, and that different strategies are associated with varying degrees of success.


Symposium presented at the 17th Annual Convention of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, San Diego, CA.




Society for Personality and Social Psychology

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