Alcohol-Approach Inclinations and Drinking Identity as Predictors of Behavioral Economic Demand for Alcohol

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Abstract

Behavioral economic demand curve indices of alcohol consumption reflect decisions to consume alcohol at varying costs. Although these indices predict alcohol-related problems beyond established predictors, little is known about the determinants of elevated demand. Two cognitive constructs that may underlie alcohol demand are alcohol-approach inclinations and drinking identity. The aim of this study was to evaluate implicit and explicit measures of these constructs as predictors of alcohol demand curve indices. College student drinkers (N = 223, 59% female) completed implicit and explicit measures of drinking identity and alcohol-approach inclinations at 3 time points separated by 3-month intervals, and completed the Alcohol Purchase Task to assess demand at Time 3. Given no change in our alcohol-approach inclinations and drinking identity measures over time, random intercept-only models were used to predict 2 demand indices: Amplitude, which represents maximum hypothetical alcohol consumption and expenditures, and Persistence, which represents sensitivity to increasing prices. When modeled separately, implicit and explicit measures of drinking identity and alcohol-approach inclinations positively predicted demand indices. When implicit and explicit measures were included in the same model, both measures of drinking identity predicted Amplitude, but only explicit drinking identity predicted Persistence. In contrast, explicit measures of alcohol-approach inclinations, but not implicit measures, predicted both demand indices. Therefore, there was more support for explicit, versus implicit, measures as unique predictors of alcohol demand. Overall, drinking identity and alcohol-approach inclinations both exhibit positive associations with alcohol demand and represent potentially modifiable cognitive constructs that may underlie elevated demand in college student drinkers.

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