Measuring Subjective Alcohol Effects in Daily Life Using Contemporary Young Adult Language

Ashley N. Linden-Carmichael, Brian H. Calhoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Young adults’ subjective feelings of alcohol’s effects are a key predictor of engagement in risky behavior such as deciding whether to drive after drinking. To best inform prevention messaging and tailor intervention techniques that target high-risk drinking, it is critical that our measurement best captures subjective feelings. Standard sliding scales (0–100 rating of, “how drunk do you feel?”) may have some challenges with distinguishing between levels of subjective responses to alcohol. The current daily diary study compared the utility of the standard sliding scale to a newly developed sliding scale that uses contemporary, crowd-sourced language from young adults as evenly spaced anchors (slightly buzzed, tipsy/ “happy,” drunk, and wasted) along a continuum of subjective effects of alcohol. Participants were 154 young adult substance users (58% women) who completed up to 14 consecutive daily reports of their substance use behavior. The four-anchored sliding scale performed similarly well as the standard scale in predicting alcohol use outcomes while showing the advantages of recording higher mean values/standard deviations and demonstrating that participants used the anchors to denote varying degrees of subjective effects. Findings suggest that the four-anchored subjective alcohol effects sliding scale is a viable alternative to the standard scale. By providing evenly spaced anchors that reflect incremental differences in language young adults use to describe their subjective states, the proposed scale may provide a guide for participants to indicate how they feel after drinking and may better capture variability in alcohol’s effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-158
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental and clinical psychopharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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