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Are people overoptimistic about the effects of heavy drinking?

  • Frank Sloan


  • Lindsey Eldred


  • Tong Guo


  • Yanzhi Xu


We test whether heavy or binge drinkers are overly optimistic about probabilities of adverse consequences from these activities or are relatively accurate about these probabilities. Using data from a survey in eight cities, we evaluate the relationship between subjective beliefs and drinking. We assess accuracy of beliefs about several outcomes of heavy/binge drinking: reduced longevity, liver disease onset, link between alcohol consumption and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), probability of an accident after drinking, accuracy of beliefs about encountering intoxicated drivers on the road, and legal consequences of DWI—ranging from being stopped to receiving fines and jail terms. Overall, there is no empirical support for the optimism bias hypothesis. We do find that persons consuming a lot of alcohol tend to be more overconfident about their driving abilities and ability to handle alcohol. However, such overconfidence does not translate into over-optimism about consequences of high levels of alcohol consumption. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.

Volume (Year): 47 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (August)
Pages: 93-127

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:47:y:2013:i:1:p:93-127
DOI: 10.1007/s11166-013-9172-x
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