Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Beverly A. Belson

Second Advisor

Dr. Milton Cudney

Third Advisor

Dr. Edward Trembley


The focus of this study was to explore the impact of parental alcoholism on personalities of college students who identify themselves as adult children of alcoholics. There were two main areas of research. One explored the degree of difference between adult children of alcoholics and adult children of nonalcoholics on personality characteristics identified by the literature to be dominant traits of adult children of alcoholics. These traits were: (a) dominance, (b) serious-mindness, (c) social recognition, (d) abasement, (e) autonomy, and (f) defendence. The second explored the possibility that adult children of alcoholics are prone to certain personality styles. These personality styles were: Millon's (1981) ambivalent personality styles and Holland's (1973) artistic personality type.

The randomly selected subjects were 160 college students, male and female, ranging in age from 18 years to 55 years. All information was gathered by examining subjects' files at a university counseling center. The subjects were divided into the adult children of alcoholic group and the adult children of nonalcoholic group based on a self-identification by each subject that one or more parent was or was not an alcoholic. The results from the Personality Research Form, Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory, Counseling Center's Problem Checklist, and Personal Fact Sheet were compared for significant differences between each group. Statistics utilized to analyze the data were: Hotelling's t-test, Pearson Product Correlations, t-test, and z-test. There were 14 hypotheses tested using a.05 level of significance.

The results show that adult children of alcoholics do not have personality traits that differ significantly from adult children of nonalcoholics. However, adult children of alcoholics were found to be significantly more conflict-laden and more prone to Millon's (1981) active-ambivalent personality style than adult children of non alcoholics.

This study lays the ground work for further exploration of the relationship between being an adult child of an alcoholic and Millon's (1981) active-ambivalent personality style. This link helps place what has been personal accounts and general clinical observations into a theoretical framework that can be used by psychologists.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Counseling Commons