Berkowitz, Alan D.,
and H. Wesley
This study compared the personality characteristics of late adolescent and young adult children of alcoholics (COAs) with those of their peers and examined the extent to which personality differences are gender specific and are related to the gender of the alcoholic parent. Specifically, data derived from an alcohol survey of young college students (N = 860) were used to examine familial alcoholism and personality characteristics, including impulsiveness, self-depreciation, lack of tension, independence/autonomy, need for social support, directiveness, sociability, and other-directedness. Although COA respondents were similar to their peers on most personality measures, they were more likely to report greater self-depreciation. This difference in self-depreciation between COAs and their peers was greater for women than men. Women with an alcoholic father were significantly more likely than women with an alcoholic mother to report greater self-depreciation. Male COAs rated themselves significantly higher on autonomy than did their male peers, but the gender of the alcoholic parent had little effect on this variable.