Implicit attitude as a moderator of the relationship between self-awareness and alcohol consumption



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Despite prevention and intervention efforts, almost 20 percent of college students meet DSM-IV criteria for alcohol dependence/abuse (NIAAA, 2007) and alcohol related consequences remain prevalent. Because many of the processes that influence behavior occur in the absence of awareness, indirect measures of implicit attitude such as the implicit association test (IAT) may be useful tools in predicting behavior. Results show that IAT performance (D scores) correlates with behaviors including alcohol use. Applications of objective self-awareness theory and the self-awareness model of alcohol consumption have demonstrated support for the view that self-awareness, and components thereof, may be associated with drinking. The literature on the relationship between self-awareness and drinking has reported inconsistent findings. The present study was designed to address the mixed literature by proposing alcohol-related implicit attitude as a moderator of the relationship between self-awareness and drinking. Self-awareness was expected to be positively associated with drinking, but only among those who have more positive (or less negative) implicit associations with drinking. Multiple hierarchical regression analyses revealed that gender was significantly related to drinking such that women reported drinking less than men, which reiterates the importance of considering gender differences in drinking. Furthermore, there was a main effect for IAT performance such that heavier drinkers had more positive (or less negative) D scores. Results further revealed that, consistent with theoretical predictions, self-consciousness (trait self-awareness), was positively associated with alcohol-related problems but not alcohol consumption. There was no evidence to support the hypothesis that implicit attitude would moderate the effect of self-awareness on drinking. This study contributes to the growing social cognitive literature that seeks to understand and identify individual differences in drinking and determine if automatic processes represent a target for treatment and prevention efforts for maladaptive behaviors.



Implicit association test, Self-awareness, Alcohol