Date of Graduation

12-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Lindsay Ham

Committee Member

Ellen Leen-Feldner

Second Committee Member

Matthew Feldner

Keywords

Alcohol, Social anxiety, Social modeling

Abstract

Alcohol misuse and elevated social anxiety are found to be highly comorbid, and being exposed to social models consuming alcohol can increase one’s consumption. Yet no research has thus far examined whether the internal experience of alcohol consumption (e.g., social anxiety reduction) can also be transmitted via social modeling. This bar-lab study examined the impact of social modeling behavioral cues of social anxiety on emerging adult drinkers. It was hypothesized that those exposed to a social model experiencing an apparent social anxiety reduction from drinking would themselves report lessened state social anxiety following a placebo drink, and that this effect would be stronger for female participants. The final sample (N = 39) consisted of 21 men and 18 women ages 21-28 (Mage = 22 years; 54% White [non-Hispanic]). All participants viewed a gender-matched videotaped social modeling manipulation and were randomly assigned either to a condition in which the confederate appeared socially anxious throughout the video (control) or ceased displaying social anxiety markers after consuming alcohol (treatment). State social anxiety was assessed both pre- and post-manipulation utilizing the State Social Anxiety Questionnaire (SSAQ). The social modeling manipulation was not found to impact SSAQ scores following placebo alcohol consumption. Further, gender did not moderate the effects. Across genders and conditions, there was a significant reduction in SSAQ scores post-drinking. Findings from this study suggest that future research may have to attend to additional factors if attempting to socially model social anxiety effects related to drinking. Floor effects for social anxiety in this non-clinical sample may have presented a barrier to detecting changes in state social anxiety. Additionally, the impact that preexisting alcohol expectancies and beliefs may have on this sort of research are not well understood.

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