Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Eleanor E. Midkiff


The etiology of alcoholism continues to be investigated. Heredity and environment have both been implicated as causes; however, the reason some people drink more than others has not been determined by science. Twin and adoption studies in humans yield evidence for genetic factors in alcoholism. Studies of possible markers in humans and studies of laboratory animal models have produced further evidence for the genetic transmission of alcohol preference. This animal study was done to further investigate the effects of heredity and environment on preference for alcohol in laboratory rats. Two genetic strains of rats, Wistar and Fischer-344, (n=39) were given a choice of a sweetened water solution or a sweetened, 10% alcohol solution. After a two week baseline period the rats were randomly assigned to an experimental group and a control group. The experimental animals were subjected to stress by enclosure for one hour each day for a two week period. During the third phase of the study the animals were not stressed. Food, sweetened water, and alcohol were consumed ad lib throughout the six week study. The amount of each solution consumed was measured daily. The alcohol intake of the animals varied over the three phases of the study, however, there was a significant difference between strains in the consumption of alcohol over the entire study. The response to stress was inconclusive.