Measuring Alcohol Expectancies With the Implicit Association Test

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Researchers have relied primarily on self-report questionnaires to measure alcohol expectancies. These questionnaires assess explicit expectancies about alcohol but do not provide any measure of the implicit processes that might also play an important role in determining drinking. The implicit association test (IAT; A. G. Greenwald, D. E. McGhee, & L. K. Schwartz, 1998), a reaction time task, measures differential associations of 2 target concepts with an attribute. In this study, the IAT provided a measure of the strength of associations of alcohol concepts to positive or negative outcomes in memory. This implicit measure of alcohol expectancies successfully predicted alcohol use in 103 undergraduates. The findings also supported the hypothesis that an implicit measure of expectancy can add to the predictive power of existing questionnaire-based measures.

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