Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 413–424 | Cite as

Effects of Deviant Child Behavior on Parental Distress and Alcohol Consumption in Laboratory Interactions

  • William E. Pelham
  • Alan R. Lang
  • Beverly Atkeson
  • Debra A. Murphy
  • Elizabeth M. Gnagy
  • Andrew R. Greiner
  • Mary Vodde-Hamilton
  • Karen E. Greenslade


Levels of adult distress and ad lib alcohol consumption following interactions with child confederates were investigated in parents of children with no diagnosable psychiatric disorders. Sixty parents (20 married couples and 20 single mothers) interacted with boys trained to enact behaviors characteristic of either normal children or “deviant” children with externalizing behavior disorders — attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder (CD), and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Relative to the normal child role, interactions with deviant confederates were rated as significantly more unpleasant, resulted in feelings of role inadequacy, and produced significantly more anxiety, depression, and hostility. After the interactions, parents were given the opportunity to drink as much of their preferred alcoholic beverage as they desired while anticipating a second interaction with the same child. The participants consumed more alcohol following exposure to deviant as opposed to normal confederates.

Stress-induced drinking alcoholism attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder oppositional defiant disorder conduct disorder 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • William E. Pelham
    • 1
  • Alan R. Lang
    • 2
  • Beverly Atkeson
    • 2
  • Debra A. Murphy
    • 3
  • Elizabeth M. Gnagy
    • 1
  • Andrew R. Greiner
    • 1
  • Mary Vodde-Hamilton
    • 1
  • Karen E. Greenslade
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterPittsburgh
  2. 2.Florida State UniversityTallahassee
  3. 3.University of California at Los AngelesLos Angeles

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