Happy Hour Drink Specials in the Alcohol Purchase Task

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Abstract

There is strong evidence to suggest that happy hour drink specials are associated with undesirable outcomes such as increased amount of drinking, increased likelihood of being highly intoxicated, and increased likelihood of experiencing negative outcomes related to drinking (e.g., getting into fights). Public policy efforts have been made to ban or at least restrict alcohol drink specials. Research in behavioral economics—primarily demand curve analyses—has yielded valuable insights into the role of environmental effects on reinforcer consumption, especially within the context of alcohol reinforcement. The use of the Alcohol Purchase Task (APT), which asks respondents to report how many alcoholic drinks they would be willing to purchase at various prices, has contributed greatly to these efforts. The purpose of the current experiment was to determine whether self-reported consumption of alcohol on an APT changes when participants imagine a hypothetical “happy hour” scenario, akin to drink specials encountered in the real world. Results from the current experiment extend previous literature on APT vignette manipulations and provide implications for efforts to reduce problematic drinking.

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