Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Mark S. Goldman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marina Bornovalova, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cheryl Kirstein, Ph.D.

Keywords

Alcohol Expectancies, Balloon Analogue Risk Task, Correlates of Drinking, Impulsivity, Priming

Abstract

Laboratory-based tasks of impulsivity and related constructs can be useful in predicting alcohol use. Performance on these tasks is generally assumed to reflect traits that remain stable across situations. However, several studies have indicated that manipulations of state-like variables (e.g., mood or stress) can influence levels of impulsivity demonstrated on the tasks. Furthermore, environmental context (in the form of physical setting, or contextual cues) has a demonstrable effect on tasks relevant to alcohol-related risky behaviors (e.g., ad lib drinking tasks). Importantly, this effect of context on behavior is dependent on the individual's alcohol expectancies. It is unknown, however, whether alcohol-related cues would lead to greater risk taking on a commonly used laboratory-based risk task, and whether this effect would be moderated by alcohol expectancies. These hypotheses were tested in a sample of undergraduate social drinkers. Results indicated that participants who viewed an alcohol prime did not perform significantly more riskily on the Balloon Analogue Risk Task than those who viewed a non-alcohol prime. While mean levels of risk taking were higher following the alcohol prime, the difference did not approach significance; the priming condition-by-expectancy interaction was also not significant.

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