Graduation Year

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Mark S. Goldman

Keywords

Free Associates, Group Settings, Implicit Assessment, Young Adult Males

Abstract

Alcohol is one of the most widely used recreational drugs in the United States today, despite being associated with a myriad of negative effects. Alcohol consumption occurs most frequently within social contexts, and seems to be strongly related to many social factors. It is known that an individual's expectations of the effects of alcohol influences his/her drinking behavior, and that social alcohol expectancies are some of the most frequently reported expectancies. In this study, we explored the relationship between alcohol expectancies and social influences by examining whether exposure to a social context would differentially activate alcohol expectancies. 115 young-adult male participants were exposed to either a social context or a control condition. Subsequently, participants' alcohol expectancies were assessed using both explicit and implicit measurements. Differences between conditions were found on the implicit expectancy measure (a free association task) but not on the explicit expectancy measures. Results from the free association task indicated that participants who were exposed to a social context were more likely to report positive and arousing words in response to the prompt "alcohol makes me _______". These differences suggest that exposure to a social context may not overtly change individuals' alcohol expectancies, but may increase the availability of positive and arousing alcohol expectancies. This increase in availability of positive and arousing expectancies may explain one of the mechanisms involved in deciding to engage in social drinking.

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