Clustering of drinker prototype characteristics: What characterizes the typical drinker?

B. van Lettow, J.K. Vermunt, H. de Vries, A. Burdorf, P. van Empelen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Prototypes (social images) have been shown to influence behaviour, which is likely to depend on the type of image. Prototype evaluation is based on (un)desirable characteristics related to that image. By an elicitation procedure we examined which adjectives are attributed to specific drinker prototypes. In total 149 young Dutch adults (18–25 years of age) provided adjectives for five drinker prototypes: abstainer, moderate drinker, heavy drinker, tipsy, and drunk person. Twenty-three unique adjectives were found. Multilevel latent class cluster analysis revealed six adjective clusters, each with unique and minor overlapping adjectives: ‘negative, excessive drinker,’ ‘moderate, responsible drinker,’ ‘funny tipsy drinker,’ ‘determined abstainer cluster,’ ‘uncontrolled excessive drinker,’ and ‘elated tipsy cluster.’ In addition, four respondent classes were identified. Respondent classes showed differences in their focus on specific adjective clusters. Classes could be labelled ‘focus-on-control class,’ ‘focus-on-hedonism class,’ ‘contrasting-extremes-prototypes class,’ and ‘focus-on-elation class.’ Respondent classes differed in gender, educational level and drinking behaviour. The results underscore the importance to differentiate between various prototypes and in prototype adjectives among young adults: subgroup differences in prototype salience and relevance are possibly due to differences in adjective labelling. The results provide insights into explaining differences in drinking behaviour and could potentially be used to target and tailor interventions aimed at lowering alcohol consumption among young adults via prototype alteration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-399
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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