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Individual Differences in Reinforcing Value of Alcohol After a Priming Dose Among High-Risk College Students




Diulio, Andrea

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The priming effect refers to an increase in the desire for more of a substance after consuming an initial dose. Sensitivity to the priming effect among drinkers is considered a risk factor for hazardous drinking. Drinkers experiencing a priming effect display experience greater motivation to consume more alcohol, rather than becoming satiated, after initiating a drinking episode, which may lead to heavy drinking episodes and alcohol-related problems. Previous studies have identified a number of factors that may be related to the priming effect; however, none have used a standardized behavioral economics choice procedure, nor have drinking motives been used to account for variance in the priming effect. The present study found significant differences in responding on the choice procedure between the sessions in which participants consumed an alcohol preload compared to a placebo, suggesting the presence of a priming effect. However, analyses did not reveal that individuals reported greater craving for alcohol in the alcohol condition, nor were differences in drinking motives, affect or stimulating effects in alcohol observed. Regression analyses revealed that greater sedating effects of alcohol and reported craving after consuming the alcohol preload may be related to enhanced sensitivity to the priming effect. Implications for how priming research can influence clinical interventions among college students, as well as what improvements can be made in priming-related research are discussed.