The effects of stereotype threat and contextual cues on alcohol users' inhibitory control

Pennington, Charlotte Rebecca and Qureshi, Adam and Monk, Rebecca and Heim, Derek (2016) The effects of stereotype threat and contextual cues on alcohol users' inhibitory control. Addictive Behaviors, 54. pp. 12-17. ISSN 0306-4603

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Aim Previous research indicates that users of illicit substances exhibit diminished cognitive function under stereotype threat. Advancing this research, the current study aimed to examine the effects of stereotype threat on alcohol users' inhibitory control. It also examined whether drinkers demonstrate a greater approach bias towards alcohol-related relative to neutral stimuli. Method Fifty-five participants were assigned randomly to a stereotype threat condition, in which they were primed with a negative stereotype linking drinking behavior to cognitive decline, or a non-threat control condition. All participants then completed a modified version of the Cued Go/No-Go Association Test that exposed participants to alcohol-related and neutral pictorial stimuli and sound cues. Results Stereotype threatened participants demonstrated a speed–accuracy trade off, taking significantly longer to respond to go-trials with equivalent accuracy to the control condition. They also showed reduced response accuracy to both alcohol-related and neutral stimuli in reversed instruction trials. Participants in the control condition were both more accurate and quicker to respond to alcohol-related stimuli compared to neutral stimuli. Conclusion These results suggest that awareness of negative stereotypes pertaining to alcohol-related impulsivity may have a harmful effect on inhibitive cognitive performance. This may have implications for public health campaigns and for methodological designs with high levels of procedural signaling with respect to not inadvertently inducing stereotype threat and impacting impulsivity.

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Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Addictive Behaviors
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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Addictive Behaviors. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Addictive Behaviors, 54, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.11.014
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12 Oct 2016 13:16
Last Modified:
17 Sep 2023 01:57