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Mood-Induced Drinking in Coping with Anxiety-Motivated and Socially Motivated Drinkers: a Lab-Based Experiment

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Alcohol misuse is a major problem on university campuses. One way to determine which students are at risk is to examine their drinking motives. Coping with anxiety-motivated (CAM) drinkers have been found to have elevated alcohol problems, even after controlling for alcohol consumption levels. Socially motivated (SM) drinkers do not show elevated alcohol problems. The current study investigated the impact of mood induction (positive or anxious) and drinking motive (CAM or SM) on laboratory alcohol consumption levels in a sample of 81 undergraduate drinkers. SM drinkers consumed more alcohol when a positive vs. anxious mood was induced (t(42) = −2.18, p = .04). Contrary to hypotheses, CAM drinkers did not consume more alcohol when an anxious vs. positive mood was induced (t(35) = −0.21, p = .84). However, they did not exhibit the normative pattern of reducing alcohol use when experiencing an anxious mood. CAM drinkers’ increased alcohol problems may be related to this lack of inhibition of drinking when experiencing negative mood states.

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  1. One participant screened positive for recent alcohol use and had to be rescheduled to participate in the experiment on another day.

  2. Note: total alcohol consumed was also investigated as a dependent variable. The findings did not differ between the two sets of results.

  3. The correlation between social and enhancement motives scores was r = .29, p < .01.


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Correspondence to Jamie-Lee Collins.

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All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants for being included in the study.

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Author Collins, Author Pencer, and Author Stewart declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Collins, JL., Pencer, A. & Stewart, S.H. Mood-Induced Drinking in Coping with Anxiety-Motivated and Socially Motivated Drinkers: a Lab-Based Experiment. Int J Ment Health Addiction 16, 90–101 (2018).

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