My long-term goal is to develop a program of research focused on emotional and cognitive processes involved in initiation of drinking and maintenance of alcohol use disorders in order to inform research on prevention and treatment. The central objectives of the proposed project are to understand how negative affect and perceived relief from drinking influence drinking decisions in the moment, and to examine the role of alcohol outcome expectancies in this process. The specific research questions to be addressed are (1) Does negative affect prompt drinking, and is this effect conditional on alcohol relief expectancies?, and (2) Does drinking relieve negative affect and is this effect conditional on alcohol relief expectancies? I will use within individual electronic diary reports of negative affect, alcohol consumption, and perceived relief from drinking, and between individual baseline measurement of alcohol outcome expectancies to answer these questions Assessing the specific aims of the proposed fellowship will inform research on existing prevention and treatment approaches and have implications for new intervention strategies. One potential intervention would be an integration of electronic diary assessment with expectancy challenge and personalized assessment feedback approaches.
Many people believe that alcohol consumption provides relief from negative affect, and in turn report drinking purposely to experience this relief. However, research to date has not fully supported the role of negative affect in drinking decisions, and there is evidence that alcohol does not actually provide relief from negative affect. Understanding these processes will be important for theoretical models of alcohol use as well as for prevention and intervention strategies to reduce drinking.
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