Method effects of the relation between family history of alcoholism and parent reports of offspring impulsive behavior

Angela M. Haeny, Andrew K. Littlefield, Phillip K. Wood, Kenneth J. Sher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


There is an extensive, albeit inconsistent, literature on the relation between parental alcoholism and offspring impulsive behavior. The reasons for this inconsistency are likely multiple but it seems probable that method effects due to different methodological approaches might explain some of the inconsistencies. Offspring behavior is typically assessed based on informant reports. However, no specific method has been demonstrated as optimal for analyzing informant reports, and conclusions may differ depending on the method used. The present study compared findings derived from a multi-informant method proposed by Bauer et al. (2013) to other structural equation models. Participants came from Wave 7 of the Alcohol, Health and Behavior study and included mother and father reports of offspring impulsive behavior on the Health and Behavior Questionnaire (Armstrong, Goldstein, & the MacArthur Working Group on Outcome Assessment, 2003). There were 368 offspring (50% female, age range 3–17 years, meanage = 6.78, SDage = 3.07) from 205 families. The multi-informant model and the single-reporter models each provided a good fit of the data; however, findings differed based on the approach employed. Specifically, the mother-only report model found that offspring with a family history of alcoholism (FHA) were more impulsive compared to offspring without a FHA; no effect of FHA was found in the other single-reporter models. Ratings of offspring impulsive behavior were higher on the father perspective factor suggesting alcoholic fathers were biased in their reports. These findings highlight the relation between FHA and impulsive behavior varies depending on the analytic method used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-259
Number of pages9
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Family history of alcoholism
  • Multi-informant data
  • Offspring impulsive behavior


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