Individual Differences in Memory Associations Involving the Positive and Negative Outcomes of Alcohol Use

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Abstract

In previous studies of memory association and alcohol use, the authors found that positive outcomes of drinking were associated in memory with alcohol concepts among heavier drinkers. The present study examined whether previous alcohol use predicted associative memory responses to negative, as well as positive, outcomes of drinking. It also examined whether the normative frequency of positive and negative outcomes affected responses. In the present sample of 609 students, previous alcohol use, normative frequency of outcome, and the number of outcomes listed strongly predicted alcohol-related associative responses to positive outcomes and, to a lesser extent, negative outcomes. The results suggest that repetitive alcohol use strengthens the association in memory between alcohol concepts and both positive and negative outcomes. However, thoughts about potential positive outcomes may be more readily cued by situational factors and events.

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