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Of two minds about alcohol: Specific effects of evaluative conditioning on implicit, but not explicit, alcohol cognitions among heavy versus light drinkers

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Zachary Petzel



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by American Psychological Association, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Heavy episodic drinking (HED) is a dangerous and pervasive problem in college populations. Two experiments examined the asymmetric effects of evaluative conditioning (EC) on cognitions underlying HED in a nonclinical, student sample. Based on the associative-propositional evaluation (APE) model, we predicted that negative EC would result in stronger implicit alcohol avoidance motivation compared to neutral EC but would not impact explicit alcohol expectancies; further, we hypothesized stronger negative EC effects among students reporting HED compared to light drinkers. Experiment 1 supported these hypotheses. In Experiment 2, participants were required to focus on either feelings or knowledge about alcohol following EC. Replicating Experiment 1, negative EC was effective in promoting implicit alcohol avoidance motivation among students reporting HED compared to neutral EC, whereas no differences in explicit alcohol expectations or urges emerged. However, greater implicit alcohol avoidance predicted lower explicit alcohol urges among participants instructed to focus on alcohol-related feelings, but not alcohol-related knowledge, regardless of condition. Findings suggest students reporting HED, but not light drinkers, may exhibit implicit alcohol avoidance following negative EC and that instructions to focus on alcohol-related feelings may align explicit and implicit responses. Results have implications for interventions aimed at retraining implicit alcohol cognitions among college students.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Noel JG, Petzel ZW, Mulderig TH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Psychology of Addictive Behaviors

Year: 2019

Volume: 33

Issue: 3

Pages: 285-296

Online publication date: 07/03/2019

Acceptance date: 13/01/2019

Date deposited: 07/01/2021

ISSN (print): 0893-164X

ISSN (electronic): 1939-1501

Publisher: American Psychological Association


DOI: 10.1037/adb0000449


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