Situational Preference and Alcohol Consumption: Heavier Drinkers Prefer Drinking Opportunities

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The purpose of the present study was to investigate the contribution of the reinforcement value (RV) construct (Rotter, 1954) in increasing the understanding of high risk situations (Marlatt & Gordon, 1980, 1985). Subjects selected one of a pair of situations as being more satisfying to them. Each pair consisted of a drinking-related situation (e.g., playing pool) and a nondrinking-related situation (e.g., exercising). Heavier drinkers were significantly more likely to choose a drinking-related situation whether alcohol was explicitly mentioned or not That is, heavier drinkers preferred situations that were likely to increase the probability of alcohol consumption. Results are discussed in terms of theoretical and practical implications of using the reinforcement value construct in addition to expectancy statements in predicting alcohol consumption.

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