Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Children of alcoholics; Self-perception;


Prior research has Indicated that the alcoholic home environment is destructive to a child's emotional well-being* and that the conditions necessary to the development of high self-esteem are not consistently present, A large segment of previous research about children of alcoholics has not been tested with rigorous research techniques and often reflects the product of personal observations* results of extensive interviews* or case studies while working with these children. Moreover* there has been a tendency to focus on clinical populations of the young and adolescent offspring of alcoholics, with few studies being conducted in which adults were used as subjects. One purpose of the present study was to empirically examine potential differences In self-concept among adult children of problem drinkers.A second purpose was to focus on The Children of Alcoholics Screening Test (CAST) and other variables such as sex of subject, birth order* and number of siblings* and the possible role these factors may play in predicting self-concept scores. Based on previous research* it was hypothesized that: (a) adult children from households In which atleast one parent has been Identified as being a problem drinker would register lower self-concept scores than adult children of moderate drinkers or abstainers; this would be true for the Total Positive + Negative (P + N) score and the six empirical scales on the Tennessee Self Concept Scale (TSCS); (b) adult children of problem drinkers would register self-concept scores similar to those of an established psychiatric patient group; (c) female adult children of problem drinkers would exhibit lower scores than male adult children of problem drinkers on the Total P + N score and the six empirical scales on the TSCS* and Cd> sex of the adult child* birth order* number of siblings* and total score on the CAST would be significant predictors of the Total P + N scores on the TSCS. A preliminary screening and a principal study were conducted. In the preliminary screening, subjects were 357 (113 males and 244 females) introductory psychology students. Each subject completed a survey entitled. "Problems in Personal Living" which the author designed to assess both personal and parental attitudes and behaviors in the following areas: cigarette use* alcoholuse* and weight control. Subjects for the principal study were selected on the basis of the "use of alcohol" section of this screening instrument with an attempt to differentiate parental drinking patterns Into the following three conditions: One or both parents abuse, bothparents drink moderately* and both parents abstain. In the principal study* the TSCS and the CAST were administered to 103 subjects (30 males and 73 females) from Intact families who met any one of the three parental drinking conditions as established in the preliminary screening. A 2 x 3 Analysis of Variance Design (Sex x Parental Drinking Condition) was used to examine the Total P + N scores and each of the six empirical scale scores on the TSCS. A Stepwise Multiple Regression was also utilized. This analysis had as its dependent criterion variable the Total P + N scores on the TSCS for the 103 subjects from the principal study. The predictor variables of sex of subject* birth order* and number of siblings* derived from the "Problems in Personal Living" screening Instrument* and the total score on the CAST were Included In the Multiple Regression to determine the amount of variance accounted for by each In predicting self-concept scores. The results of the present study at least partially support previous findings regarding the effects of parental alcoholism on children's self-concept. The first hypothesis# that adult children of problem drinkers would register lower self-concept scores than children of moderate drinkers or abstainers received mixed support# as did the second hypothesis regarding similarities of adult children of problem drinkers to an established psychiatric patient group. Results indicated that adult children of problem drinkers tended to be more maladjusted and may have a greater propensity toward the development of- personality problems and neuroses. The third hypothesis regarding sex differences between children of problem drinkers was not supported.The fourth hypothesis was partially supported# Indicating that the CAST was the best predictor of self-concept. Thus# exposure to parental alcohol abuse In the home appeared to be significantly related to self- concept. Limitations of the study were discussed. Implications for future research were presented.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

John W. Somervill, Chairman, Thesis Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (ix, 97 pages)



File Format


Included in

Psychology Commons