Project Name: RAD
Principal Investigator: Kristen Lingren, Ph.D.
Grant Title: Retraining Automatic Biases Related to Problem Drinking in College Students
Sponsor: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Project Period:1/1/12 – 1/31/14
Grant Number: R00AA017669
Project Coordinator: Melissa Gasser

Project RAD consists of a series of studies that test the feasibility of retraining automatic associations related to heavy episodic drinking and related negative consequences and the utility of retraining. Automatic cognitive processes (i.e., those that operate outside of awareness and without effort, and possibly without consciousness) are receiving increasing attention in the alcohol research literature. They have been linked to actual alcohol consumption as well as to alcohol-related negative consequences (De Jong et al.,2007; Houben & Wiers, 2006; Palfai & Ostafin, 2003) and have been found to predict unique, incremental variance in drinking behavior above and beyond the variance explained by demographic characteristics and/or alcohol-related cognitive mediators (Lindgren et al., 2007a; Ostafin & Palfai, 2006). These findings, in conjunction with theoretical models of alcohol consumption
that emphasize automatic and controlled processes (“dual-process models”) (Wiers & Stacy, 2006), suggest that automatic processes may serve as an additional target for alcohol prevention and intervention efforts. Research on retraining alcohol-related automatic processes is in its infancy. The current study implements the paradigm and measures its effects on subsequent drinking outcomes. It also aims to investigate whether changes to automatic alcohol-related associations will endure and whether they are linked to reductions in drinking intentions and behaviors. Retraining is expected to facilitate the activation of the retrained associations (e.g., alcohol+avoid; water+approach) and inhibit the activation of pre-existing associations (e.g., alcohol+approach; water+avoid). This shift is predicted to (a) reduce the accessibility of associations that guide (some of) an individual’s drinking behavior, (b) inhibit the commencement of a pathway that leads to drinking, and (c) possibly, reduce drinking intentions, behaviors, and negative consequences. The study also examines potential moderators of the retraining paradigms and alcohol outcomes, including demographic characteristics, alcohol-related factors, personality factors, and retraining factors.

Related Publications:
Lindgren, K.P., Kaysen, D., Werntz, A.J., Gasser, M.L., & Teachman, B.A. (in press). Wounds that Can’t Be Seen: Implicit Trauma Associations Predict Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.

Lindgren, K.P., Foster, D. W., Westgate, E. C., & Neighbors, C. (2013). Implicit Drinking Identity: Drinker + Me Associations Predict College Student Drinking Consistently. Addictive Behaviors, 38, 2163-2166. [PMCID in process]

Lindgren, K. P., Westgate†, E., Kilmer, J., Kaysen, D. & Teachman, B. A. (2012). Pick Your Poison: Stimuli Selection in Implicit Measures. Addictive Behaviors, 37, 990-993. [PMCID in process]

Lindgren, K. P., Neighbors, C., Teachman, B. A., Wiers, R. W., Westgate†, E., & Greenwald, A. G. (2012). I Drink Therefore I am: Validating Alcohol-Related Implicit Association Tests. Psychology Of Addictive Behaviors, doi:10.1037/a0027640 [PMCID in process]

Lindgren, K. P., Neighbors, C., Blayney, J. A. †, Mullins, P. M. †, & Kaysen, D. (2012). Coping but not enhancement motives mediate the association between sexual assault and problem drinking. Addictive Behaviors, 37, 323-326. [PMC3314710]