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Title: Investigating mediators and moderators of the alcohol priming effect
Author: Knibb, G.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8505 8817
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
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Acute doses of alcohol can increase subsequent craving and alcohol consumption. This ‘alcohol priming effect’ may be an important determinant of both relapse among alcohol-dependent individuals, and binge drinking behaviours among social drinkers. This thesis aimed to investigate potential mediators and moderators of the alcohol priming effect. Current models have proposed alcohol-induced impairments of inhibitory control to underlie the alcohol priming effect (Field et al, 2010). However, there is currently inconclusive evidence for this claim. The overarching aim of this thesis was to, therefore, clarify the extent to which acute alcohol consumption indirectly affects subsequent consumption via these impairments. Each experimental study included a measure of inhibitory control (a stop-signal task), administration of alcohol and a measure of ad libitum alcohol consumption. This data was then synthesised in chapter 7. Overall, there was no effect of alcohol on inhibitory control and, therefore, inhibitory impairments did not mediate alcohol priming. This thesis also investigated two potential novel moderators of the alcohol priming effect; the role of beliefs about alcohol’s acute effects (chapter 6) and the effect of social influences (chapters 3, 4 and 5). Belief’s regarding the effects of alcohol were not found to affect ad lib alcohol consumption but did affect alcohol-induced impairments of inhibitory control. In addition, the alcohol priming effect had little effect on drinking when in the presence of others. Notably, alcohol consumption was increased in the presence of others relative to when alone (chapter 4) and when exposed to a heavy, relative to a light, drinking friend (chapter 5) regardless of whether a priming dose had been consumed. In addition, the association between self-reported peer and personal alcohol consumption was moderated by urgency (one facet of impulsivity) but only when drinking induced disinhibition was low (chapter 3). Overall these findings suggest the importance of the alcohol priming effect as a determinant of binge drinking is minimal. Furthermore, these findings suggest that the effect of alcohol on inhibition is exaggerated in the current literature. Previous findings may have been influenced by individual beliefs regarding the acute effect of alcohol. Other people’s drinking does; however, appear to exert a consistent effect on personal alcohol consumption. Models of alcohol priming require considerable adjustment in light of these findings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral