, Volume 219, Issue 2, pp 501–510 | Cite as

Components of behavioural impulsivity and automatic cue approach predict unique variance in hazardous drinking

  • Paul Christiansen
  • Jon C. Cole
  • Andrew J. Goudie
  • Matt Field
Original Investigation



Hazardous drinking is associated with both increased impulsivity and automatic approach tendencies elicited by alcohol-related cues. However, impulsivity is a multi-factorial construct, and it is currently unclear if all components of impulsivity are associated with heavy drinking. Furthermore, emerging evidence suggests that the relationships between hazardous drinking and automatic alcohol cognitions may be moderated by individual differences in impulsivity.


The aim of this study was to investigate the independence of measures of impulsivity and their association with hazardous drinking, and to examine if the relationship between hazardous drinking and automatic alcohol approach tendencies would be moderated by individual differences in impulsivity.


Ninety-seven social drinkers (65 female) completed questionnaire measures of trait impulsivity, alcohol consumption and hazardous drinking. Participants also completed computerised measures of automatic alcohol approach tendencies (stimulus–response compatibility (SRC) task), and two behavioural measures of impulsivity (Go/No-go and delay discounting tasks).


Principal component analysis revealed that the two measures of behavioural impulsivity were distinct from each other and from self-reported trait impulsivity, although self-reported non-planning impulsivity loaded on to two factors (trait impulsivity and delay discounting). Furthermore, all measures of impulsivity predicted unique variance in hazardous drinking as did automatic alcohol approach tendencies, although the latter relationship was not moderated by impulsivity.


These results indicate that multiple components of impulsivity and automatic alcohol approach tendencies explain unique variance in hazardous drinking.


Alcohol Cognitive bias Delay discounting Impulsivity Inhibitory control 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Christiansen
    • 1
  • Jon C. Cole
    • 1
  • Andrew J. Goudie
    • 1
  • Matt Field
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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