Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Matthew T. Feldner

Committee Member

Lindsay S. Ham

Second Committee Member

Douglas A. Behrend


Alcohol Use Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Social Conflict


While substantial efforts have been devoted to understanding links between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and hazardous alcohol use, relatively little research has examined possible third factor variables that may maintain this comorbidity. Social conflict is common among people suffering from posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), hazardous alcohol use, and the combination of these two conditions, and is thought to maintain both PTSS and hazardous alcohol use. Fortunately, social conflict is malleable, but there is little evidence to date examining social conflict as a common maintaining factor. The current study investigated the effect of social conflict on state PTSS, alcohol craving, and alcohol approach bias in an effort to isolate one portion of a complex constellation of difficulties. A total of 46 participants with a history of trauma exposure and current hazardous alcohol use completed a laboratory-based assessment of posttraumatic stress symptom reactions, alcohol craving, and alcohol approach bias in response to social conflict, as manipulated via the script-driven imagery procedure. Results demonstrated that social conflict, compared to a neutral social script, elicited an increase in state PTSS symptoms, but not in alcohol craving, or alcohol approach bias. Sex was not demonstrated to have a moderating effect on social conflict as it relates to PTSS, alcohol craving, or alcohol approach bias. These findings highlight the role of social conflict in eliciting state PTSS; however, contrary to hypotheses social conflict did not elicit alcohol craving or approach bias. Possible reasons for these findings as well as limitations and future directions are discussed.