Evaluating implicit drinking identity as a mediator of drinking motives and alcohol consumption and craving


Introduction: Implicit drinking identity (i.e., cognitive associations between the self and drinking) is a reliable predictor of drinking. However, whether implicit drinking identity might mediate the relationship between other robust predictors of drinking and drinking outcomes is unknown. We hypothesized that implicit drinking would mediate the relationship between drinking motives and alcohol consumption and craving. Method: We assessed drinking motives at Time 1, implicit drinking identity at Time 2 (on average, 11 days later) and self-reported alcohol consumption and craving at Time 3 (on average, 6 days later) in a sample of 194 US undergraduates (54% women) who reported at least one heavy drinking episode (4 drinks for women, 5 for men) in the past month. Participants completed self-report measures of drinking motives, daily alcohol consumption, and current craving. Results: Implicit drinking identity uniquely mediated the relationship between social motives and alcohol consumption. It did not, however, mediate the relationship between motives and craving. Time 2 implicit drinking identity was positively associated with greater alcohol consumption and craving at Time 3, even after controlling for drinking motives. Subsequent analyses indicated significant indirect effects between social, enhancement, and coping motives (but not conformity) and consumption and craving when each motive was evaluated individually. Conclusions: Implicit drinking identity continues to have promise as a predictor of drinking outcomes and as a target for interventions. Future experimental and prospective studies will be critical to establish the circumstances under which implicit drinking identity is strengthened and/or activated and the resulting effects on hazardous drinking.



Implicit cognition, Implicit drinking identity, Drinking identity, Alcohol consumption, Alcohol craving


Copyright 2015 Addictive Behaviors. This is a post-print version of a published paper that is available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306460314004286. Recommended citation: Lindgren, Kristen P., Clayton Neighbors, Reinout W. Wiers, Melissa L. Gasser, and Bethany A. Teachman. "Evaluating Implicit Drinking Identity as a Mediator of Drinking Motives and Alcohol Consumption and Craving." Addictive Behaviors 43 (2015): 33-38. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.12.004. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.