Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Committee Director

Cathy Lau-Barraco

Committee Member

Bryan E. Porter

Committee Member

Matt Henson

Abstract

Caffeinated alcohol beverages (CAB) (e.g., vodka and Red Bull, rum and Coke) have become increasingly popular among young drinkers. Research indicates that consumption of caffeinated alcohol is associated with higher reports of injuries requiring medical attention, engaging in more risky behaviors, and achieving greater levels of intoxication. As such, consumers of CAB are a population that may be at a higher risk of experiencing alcohol-related harms. Although CAB drinkers have been shown to exhibit more impulsive behavior, little research has examined impulse control in this population or other mechanisms that may contribute to alcohol-related risks for these individuals. It has been suggested that environmental cues may trigger craving and drinking through the influence on impulsivity. Thus, a bar context may elicit greater impulsivity, which in turn, increases one’s craving for alcohol or CAB. Consequently, the present study sought: (1) to determine the influence of an environmental context (i.e., bar simulated lab) on subjective ratings of craving (i.e., alcohol craving, CAB-specific craving), and (2) to examine behavioral impulsivity as a mediator of the influence of environmental context on subjective cravings in a sample of moderate to heavy drinkers that consume CAB. Participants were 135 (66.7% female) college CAB drinkers. Using a between-subjects design, participants were randomized into either the experimental (i.e., simulated bar) condition or control (i.e., neutral context) condition and completed measures of alcohol use, CAB use, trait impulsivity, state impulsivity, and subjective craving for alcohol and CAB. Findings revealed that participants in the experimental condition, as compared to those in the neutral condition, reported more subjective craving for alcohol, but not for CAB. The association between environmental context and subjective craving for alcohol was not mediated by state-level changes in impulsivity. Trait impulsivity was positively associated with alcohol and CAB craving at each time point, in both conditions. Therefore, the current investigation suggests that consumers of CAB may be sensitive to alcohol-related cues as indicated by greater responses in alcohol craving. However, state impulsivity did not explain this association. Future research may benefit from examining other potential mechanisms that explain the relationship between context and craving among CAB consumers.

ISBN

9781369164244

Included in

Psychology Commons

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