Graduation Year

1507346220

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Mark S. Goldman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marina Bornovalova, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Schlauch, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sandra Schneider-Wright, Ph.D.

Keywords

behavioral economics, alcohol expectancies, alcohol, contextual priming

Abstract

Behavioral economic accounts of substance use have provided a novel framework to examine constraints that affect behaviorally driven outcomes. Several behavioral studies support the application of such frameworks to examine impulsive decision-making processes as well as how subjective reward influences substance use. Based on stimulus-response models, behavioral economic research often applies mathematical formulas to draw conclusions about behavioral outcomes. These mathematical formulas, while useful, largely ignore decades of cognitive psychology research that have examined state-based influences (e.g., mood, environment, motivational processes, etc.) on behavioral sequelae. To address this issue, the present study merged a cognitive framework into two behavioral economic measures: a delay discounting measure and an alcohol purchase task. Specifically, cognitive priming techniques were used to examine how contextual influences differentially affect outcomes on these behavioral economic measures using a wide range of drinkers. Our results suggest that both negative and positive alcohol-related cognitions affected outcomes on the alcohol purchase task, but not the delay discounting task. Specifically, participants in the negative and positive alcohol-related priming conditions spent significantly more money on alcohol overall, were willing to pay higher prices for standard drinks, and were willing to continue drinking at escalating prices relative to participants in priming conditions unrelated to alcohol use. Although alcohol expectancies were not related to either behavioral measure, our overall findings further emphasize the complementary interplay of cognition and behavior that account for alcohol use and related behaviors.

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