Psychology ETDs

Publication Date



Previous research has shown that drinking levels are influenced by social networks, yet causal mechanisms that explain this relationship are poorly understood. The present study assessed alcohol-related attentional bias as a hypothesized mechanism connecting social support with drinking. Using a 10-minute writing assignment, 84 participants were randomly assigned to focus on a network member that was either a heavy or light drinker. Modified Stroop tests assessed alcohol-related attentional bias before and after the assignment by measuring response latencies for naming font colors for alcohol and neutral words presented on a computer screen. Drinking quantity, alcohol-related problems, and acceptance were assessed using self-report questionnaires. Analyses were conducted to test the impact of the writing task on alcohol-related attentional bias, the mediating relationship of attentional bias on social support and drinking, and the moderating role of acceptance on attentional bias and drinking. Results indicate that, relative to neutral words, response latencies for alcohol words were not significantly affected by the writing task condition in the expected direction. Contrary to the expected results, low-intensity drinkers had significantly longer response latencies to alcohol words than neutral words at baseline, and high-intensity drinkers had significantly longer response latencies to alcohol words during the post-writing-task Stroop test, collapsing across experimental conditions. Attentional bias was not found to mediate social support and participant drinking, and acceptance did not moderate the relationship between attentional bias and drinking. Further probing of the Stroop test suggested that the test may have poor reliability that may have contributed to the failure to support the study hypotheses.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Ruthruff, Eric

Second Committee Member

Bryan, Angela




alcohol Stroop, attention, college drinkers

Document Type