Will your kids start sneaking beers out of your fridge and getting drunk
in their teens? Scientists say they can predict the outcome as early as when
they’re toddlers, based on their personality.
A new study published in the journal Alcoholism:
Clinical and Experimental Research, has found that certain temperaments are
prone to drinking. "People don't enter adolescence as blank slates; they
have a history of life experiences that they bring with them, dating back to
early childhood," said Danielle Dick, a psychologist from at Virginia
Commonwealth University and a co-author of the study.
The study followed thousands of newborns from birth to 15-and-a-half
years, including personality data taken from the mothers during the children's first five years of life, and from both parents and the subjects themselves in
the years after that point. (Previous research also suggests that these
personalities are set by 1st grade.)
What the data showed was this: Two vastly different personality types
are drawn to drinking alcohol. On one end of the spectrum were emotionally
unstable kids who might feel insecure around their peers—no big surprise there.
But highly social “extroverts” were also prone to drinking alcohol as well. In
other words: both the cool kids and those on the fringes are equally likely to grab
"This underscores the fact that drinking during adolescence is
largely a social phenomenon," Dick said. "However, this doesn't mean
it's less problematic; we know from other studies that most adolescent drinking
is high risk—for example, binge drinking—and can lead to numerous negative