Alcohol cognitions and college student drinking: The moderating effect of executive abilities

Andrea M Lavigne, University of Rhode Island


Research informed by dual process models of addictions has clearly demonstrated an association between automatic and controlled alcohol-related cognitions and alcohol use. However, the literature is limited with respect to examination of the cognitive abilities that may moderate these associations across populations. This study examined executive abilities, automatic and controlled alcohol-related cognitions, and alcohol use and problems in sample of college students. It was hypothesized that the executive abilities of working memory and response inhibition would moderate relations between alcohol-related cognitions and involvement. Specifically, it was anticipated that individuals with weaker abilities in these areas would demonstrate stronger relations between automatic cognitions and use, while individuals with stronger abilities in these areas would demonstrate more robust relations between controlled cognitions and use. Research participants completed two Implicit Association Tasks measuring alcohol-related arousal and relaxation associations. In addition, participants completed questionnaires regarding alcohol expectancies, alcohol consumption and problems, and various measures of neuropsychological functioning. We tested study hypotheses using structural equation modeling and probed significant interactions using simple slope analyses. Support for a moderating effect of inhibition abilities on relations between implicit relaxation associations and alcohol involvement was observed. Findings from this study contribute to our understanding of cognitive and neuropsychological factors that contribute to alcohol misuse with important implications for preventive interventions and treatment.^

Subject Area

Psychology, Behavioral|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Andrea M Lavigne, "Alcohol cognitions and college student drinking: The moderating effect of executive abilities" (2013). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3558888.