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The Reinforcing Value of Alcohol in a Drinking to Cope Paradigm




Rousseau, Glenna

Type of Degree





The present research was conducted to explore the relationship between negative mood and the reinforcing value of alcohol, while clarifying the role of coping motives. Participants with a history of recent alcohol use (N=44; 72% female, 86% Caucasian, and mean age of 21.9) participated in a laboratory session and were randomly assigned to either a negative (n=22) or neutral (n=22) mood induction condition. A manipulation check confirmed that participants in the negative mood condition, but not the neutral mood condition, displayed a significant increase in negative affect. The Multiple Choice Procedure was used to measure the reinforcing value of alcohol after the mood manipulation. A crossover point at which the participant chooses money over alcohol was used as an index of the reinforcing value of that drug. Regression models employed the MCP crossover point as the dependent variable; mood condition (neutral or negative) and drinking to cope were entered as predictors. A final model that included an interaction term of the aforementioned predictor variables accounted for 29% of the variance in MCP crossover points, with the interaction term emerging as a significant predictor. These results suggest that the relationship between mood and the reinforcing value of alcohol is moderated by drinking to cope, and help clarify the conditions under which negative mood may lead to changes in the reinforcing value of alcohol. This research also supports the utility of providing coping drinkers with alternative tools for addressing their negative affect.