Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 165–176 | Cite as

Alcohol intake leads people to focus on desirability rather than feasibility

  • A. Timur SevincerEmail author
  • Gabriele Oettingen
Original Paper


According to alcohol myopia theory (Steele and Josephs in Am Psychol 45:921–933, 1990) intoxicated people disproportionally focus on the most salient aspects of a situation and ignore peripheral information. We investigated whether consuming alcohol leads people to disproportionally focus on the desirability rather than feasibility of important personal goals. Students named an important personal goal and then either consumed alcohol or a placebo. Thereafter, we asked them to freely think about their goal and to write down their thoughts and images. We content-analyzed students’ elaborations with regard to what extent they focused on the goal’s desirability and on its feasibility. Intoxicated students wrote more about aspects of desirability and less about aspects of feasibility than those who consumed a placebo. The results suggest that this effect is one mechanism by which alcohol intake leads people to feel committed to personal goals despite low feasibility of attaining these goals (Sevincer and Oettingen in J Abnorm Psychol 118:623–633, 2009).


Alcohol Desirability Feasibility Expectations Incentive value Goal commitment Content analysis 



Preparation of this article was supported by German Science Foundation grant OE 237/9-1 awarded to the second author. Birger Bosy’s and Maria Kowalski’s help with collecting the data and Gerlinde Luca’s help with coding the data are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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