Which type of drinker are you?
Empirical research from the past 15 years have distinguished four different motives for drinking among youths. Personality is the main influence for a person’s motive for drinking.
Enhancement motives: You drink to feel good, to get drunk, or just for its own sake. You desire intense and novel experiences, and others might say that you’re impulsive, extraverted, or aggressive. You drink with same-sex friends, at friends’ homes, and in bars.
Coping motives: You drink to cope with bad feelings, to relieve stress, or to avoid social rejection. You may be neurotic, disagreeable, or have negative views of yourself. You generally drink at home, but not at parties or with your family.
Social motives: You drink to be more sociable, or to help you enjoy a party. You’re a moderate drinker, and generally only drink in social contexts. You drink more frequently at mixed-sex parties, but not at home, in bars, or together with family members.
The “but not at home, in bars” part is a bit strange. One would think that social drinkers would be okay with drinking at bars.
Conformity motives: You drink because of pressure from peers, or to be liked. Specific personality or contextual traits were not found.
There are also differences in motives between genders as well as changes as a person ages.
…enhancement and coping motives, increase generally with age but are steeper among males than among females.
In adolescence and the college freshman years, indicating coping motives was found to be more strongly associated with excessive alcohol use among females than among males whereas after the freshman years and when entering the workplace in their mid-twenties men’s heavy drinking tallied more with coping motives than women’s heavy drinking.
The main targets for alcoholism prevention are people who drink for enhancement or coping motives because they often result in heavy drinking. Due to the changes in motives for age and gender, the authors recommend focusing on boys who drink for enhancement motives and girls who drink for coping motives.
Kuntsche, E., Knibbe, R., Gmel, G., & Engels, R. (2006). Who drinks and why? A review of socio-demographic, personality, and contextual issues behind the drinking motives in young people. Addictive Behaviors, 31(10), 1844-57.