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Journal Article


Keough MT, O'Connor RM, Colder CR. Alcohol Clin. Exp. Res. 2016; 40(5): 1065-1074.


Department of Psychology , University at Buffalo, State University of New York, New York, New York.


(Copyright © 2016, John Wiley and Sons)






BACKGROUND: There is great interest in the role of the behavioral inhibition system (BIS) and the behavioral approach system (BAS) in the etiology of alcohol use because of the strong links of these systems to neuroscience and cognitive models of addiction. The revised Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory suggests that the strength of the BIS and BAS jointly influences behavior, so-called the joint systems hypothesis. Yet, relatively little work has examined this hypothesis, particularly with respect to alcohol information processing. Grounded in dual-process theories of alcohol information processing, this study aimed to clarify the roles of implicit (i.e., automatic processes) and explicit (i.e., controlled processes) cognitions in BIS-related drinking. When anxious and presented with an alcohol (vs. neutral) cue, we expected those with an elevated BIS to have increased implicit and explicit alcohol cognitions related to tension reduction, but only at elevated BAS. Shifts in cognitions following cue exposure were expected to positively correlate with alcohol misuse.

METHODS: Students (N = 110) completed baseline measures followed by the Trier Social Stress Test. This was followed by a cue exposure (random assignment to alcohol or water cue), during which participants completed postmood assessments of implicit/explicit alcohol cognitions.

RESULTS: Overall, participants' implicit alcohol cognition was negative. The effect of BIS on implicit and explicit cognitions was moderated by BAS; however, results were not as hypothesized. In the alcohol condition only (when controlling for baseline implicit cognition), BIS predicted relatively weak implicit negative alcohol cognition, but only at low BAS. Interestingly, in the alcohol condition only, BIS predicted increased explicit reward (but not relief) expectancies, but only at high BAS. Changes in explicit reward expectancies positively correlated with alcohol misuse.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that explicit cognitions may be relevant to drinking among anxious individuals who are also reward responsive. Cognitive behavioral interventions should target reward expectancies to reduce anxiety-related drinking.

Copyright © 2016 by the Research Society on Alcoholism.

Language: en


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