Exploring the underlying nature of alcohol-related implicit attitudes

Lindsay, Daniel Bruce (2015) Exploring the underlying nature of alcohol-related implicit attitudes. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Contemporary research into alcohol consumption has identified automatic cognitive processes such as implicit attitudes as being influential on the initiation and maintenance of drinking behaviour (Houben & Wiers, 2006, 2008a). However, the structure of implicit alcohol-related attitudes, as well as ways in which these attitudes can be manipulated, remains relatively unknown. Therefore, the current research project aimed to explore the underlying nature of implicit attitudes toward alcohol consumption.

To date, research examining implicit alcohol-related attitude change has focused on associative processes, namely Evaluative Conditioning (EC; Houben, Haverman, & Wiers, 2010; Houben, Schoenmakers, & Wiers, 2010). It was argued here that advertisements may serve as a real-world example of an EC trial. Study 1 (N = 80) and Study 2 (N = 54) examined the immediate influence of beer and chocolate advertising on implicit attitudes, as measured on an Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998), and using a pre- and post-test design. The results of Study 1 indicated that viewing an advertisement for beer produced a significant positive shift in beer-related implicit attitudes from pre- to post-test. Participants who had previously seen the beer advertisement reported a significantly larger shift in beer-related implicit attitudes than participants who had never seen it. Furthermore, participants who had seen the beer advertisement most often reported the strongest implicit attitude change. No change was found for chocolate-related implicit attitudes in Study 1.

All of the above attitude findings from Study 1 were replicated in Study 2. Extending the results from Study 1, Study 2 introduced a measure of consumption behaviour for both beer and chocolate. The results from Study 2 found no direct relationship between advertisement exposure and product consumption in the laboratory. However, previous advertisement exposure moderated the relationship between beer-related implicit attitude change and beer consumption in the laboratory. The results from Studies 1 and 2 indicated that advertisements, which may use the associative principles of EC, are able to produce implicit alcohol-related attitude change. Study 3 (N = 243) aimed to examine the influence of non-associative processes, namely message frames, on alcohol-related implicit attitude change. The results from Study 3 indicated that socially-focused messages were more influential in producing negative implicit attitude change than health-focused messages.

Due to the significant alcohol-related implicit attitude change found in Studies 1-3, it was argued that individuals may hold ambivalent attitudes toward alcohol. Therefore, the ambivalent nature of explicit and implicit alcohol-related attitudes was explored in Study 4 (N = 257) and Study 5 (N = 340) respectively. The results from these studies provided evidence to suggest that implicit and explicit attitudes toward alcohol consumption are ambivalent. Study 5 also examined whether the experience of alcohol-related consequences contributed to ambivalence in alcohol-related attitudes, but no significant relationships were found.

Based on the results of this research project, it appears as though both associative and non-associative processes can produce alcohol-related implicit attitude change. A possible explanation for this change is that individuals' attitudes toward alcohol consumption are ambivalent. Further research is needed to examine the relationship between ambivalence in alcohol-related attitudes and consumption behaviour, as well as an exploration of the factors that may produce ambivalence in alcohol-related attitudes. Recommendations for alcohol advertising, attitude measurement and community level anti-drinking messages are provided. The results of this research project increase the current understanding of the complex nature of implicit alcohol-related attitudes.

Item ID: 44646
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: alcohol consumption; ambivalence; belief biases; drinking behaviors; drinking behaviours; hidden bias; implicit attitudes
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2016 04:41
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology @ 33%
17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170110 Psychological Methodology, Design and Analysis @ 33%
17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1702 Cognitive Science > 170202 Decision Making @ 34%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920401 Behaviour and Health @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920414 Substance Abuse @ 50%
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