Automatic Activation of Alcohol Concepts in Response to Positive Outcomes of Alcohol Use

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Medicine and Health Sciences | Mental and Social Health | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Substance Abuse and Addiction


Seventy-one subjects with various levels of drinking experience completed a computerized semantic priming task. Prime phrases (describing positive outcomes of drinking alcohol or neutral phrases) were presented immediately before a target word (either alcohol-related or not). The results replicated earlier basic research examining the effects of semantically related primes on the processing of subsequent words. Furthermore, the results provided evidence that, for heavy drinking subjects, the presentation of phrases describing positive drinking outcomes significantly primed, or facilitated, responses to the alcohol-related words. These results are consistent with the view that for some individuals, thoughts about certain outcomes automatically prime, or make accessible, concepts related to alcohol use. An increase in the accessibility of these concepts has important implications for behavioral decisions about alcohol consumption.

Rights Information

© 1996 Research Society on Alcoholism