The influence of depressed mood on alcohol-related self-control processes: the moderational role of drinking motives
Ralston, Timothy E
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Among college students, severity of depressive symptoms is associated with more alcohol-related problems. Mood states may contribute to problematic alcohol use by influencing appetitive responses to alcohol through activation of alcohol-specific motivational schema. Once activated by relevant cues, these positive and negative reinforcement schema may automatically influence alcohol-seeking behavior. The current study sought to examine whether the influence of depressed mood on alcohol-related action tendencies would be moderated by the strength of negative (coping) and positive (enhancement) reinforcement motives. One hundred and sixty-nine college drinkers participated in a between-groups experiment in which they were exposed to a neutral or depressed mood induction followed by a computerized measure of alcohol-specific action tendencies, the Approach Avoidance Task (AAT) (Wiers et al., 2009). It was hypothesized that depressed mood would increase alcohol-related approach tendencies only for those students with stronger coping motives. The moderational influence of enhancement motives was also explored with the hypothesis that depressed mood would students with stronger enhancement motives due to an incongruence between mood cue and motivational schema. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted for each hypothesis separately. For the analyses, gender and AAT order were entered as covariates followed by specific motive score and mood condition in the second step and the motivemood condition interaction term in the third step. Mood did not influence AAT performance, nor was there evidence of an interaction with coping motives. In contrast, there was a significant interaction between mood condition and enhancement motives, such that depressed mood was associated with lower alcohol-approach responses among those with higher enhancement motives. These results suggest that depressed mood may produce devaluation of alcohol for students who tend to drink to enhance positive experiences. More broadly, these findings suggest that contextual cues such as mood may activate or inhibit appetitive responses to alcohol depending on individual differences in drinking motives.
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