, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 245-252

Gender and personality in alcoholism

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¶The topic gender and personality in alcoholism is discussed on the background of a research project on clinical aspects of alcoholism at the University of Würzburg, Germany. The data of this study are presented in the context of two questions: Which personality differences are there between women and men dependent on alcohol, and is there a connection between these personality differences and features of the alcohol dependence? Additionally, we take a look at gender-related differences in the development of alcoholism. In a first step, gender differences in the development and the course of alcoholism are investigated. The data revealed only weak differences between female and male alcoholics when important confounding variables like age and education are taken into consideration. Secondly, the female and male alcoholics are matched according to age and education and their personality structures are compared by using several well-established and standardized self-report questionnaires. No serious gender differences concerning the main characteristics of alcohol dependence could be discovered. However, some remarkable personality differences between female and male alcoholics are found: women scored significantly higher on Neuroticism and Harm-Avoidance while men reached significantly higher scores on Venturesomeness and Sensation-Seeking. In order to detect a possible connection between alcoholism and gender-related personality differences, both males and females are subdivided into two groups using the scores of Neuroticism, Harm-Avoidance, Venturesomeness and Sensation-Seeking, respectively. We have found no indication for a gender-specific relevance of personality differences between female and male alcoholics with regard to Harm-Avoidance, Venturesomeness or Sensation-Seeking. However, differences in Neuroticism have revealed a greater relevance in alcohol-dependent women than in men.

Received February 3, 2003; accepted March 11, 2003 Published online August 12, 2003