Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Mark S. Goldman, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Jon Rottenberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kristen Salomon, Ph.D.

Keywords

drinking, college, cognition, priming, cue reactivity

Abstract

Expectancy theory provides a useful framework within which to examine the link between cognitive representations of anticipated alcohol related outcomes and affective processes that ought to shape behavior at the level of implicit, or automatic, processing. The role of affect in alcohol expectancies is an important one as it reflects the approach-avoid contingency associated with reward learning presumed to underlie addictive processes. This study examined the relationship between affect and expectancy operation by using suboptimally presented alcohol related cues to prime affectively congruent evaluations of otherwise unrelated targets. Hypotheses predicted that drinkers who reported higher positive and arousing expectancies for alcohol outcomes would make affective evaluations (but not semantic categorizations) more accurately when target stimuli were preceded with an alcohol picture or word prime. Analysis of drinking and expectancy variables revealed positive relationships between drinking frequency and social/physical pleasure expectancies, as well as tension reduction expectancies. No relationships were found between drinking quantity and expectancies. Evaluation response accuracy was not related to alcohol expectancies. Discussion centers on potential reasons for lack of findings, including experimenter error and design limitations.

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