Aims. To evaluate Cloninger's typology of alcoholism using the Alcohol Symptom Scale (Gilligan et al., 1987).
Participants. A sample of 300 Australian men and women with a life-time diagnosis of DSM-III-R alcohol abuse/dependence.
Measures. The Alcohol Dependence Scale, the Short Alcoholism Screening Test, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) Substance Abuse Module, the Brief Symptom Inventory, the CIDI core modules, the Family History Questionnaire and the Sensation Seeking Scale.
Findings. The Alcohol Symptom Scale classified only 18% of the sample into either type I or type 2. There was mixed support for the hypothesized differences between type 1 and type 2 problem drinkers in pattern of alcohol abuse, gender, personality characteristics and familial aggregation of alcohol abuse. More women than men were classified as type 1 (19% vs. 6%) but, contrary to expectations, similar numbers were classified as type 2 problem drinkers (7% vs. 4%). As predicted, type 2 problem drinkers had more symptoms of antisocial personality disorder, more social consequences of drinking and higher sensation-seeking scores than type I problem drinkers.
Conclusions. Cloninger's typology failed to classify two types of problem drinkers and it did not predict gender differences in symptoms of alcohol dependence, family history or personality. Schuckit, Irwin & Mahler's (1990) hypothesis that type 2 problem drinkers are more likely to have primary ASPD was supported.