Implicit and explicit alcohol-related motivations among college binge drinkers

Laura C. Herschl, Dennis E. McChargue, James MacKillop, Scott F. Stoltenberg, Krista B. Highland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Rationale: Positive alcohol outcome expectancies and behavioral economic indices of alcohol consumption are related to binge drinking among college students and may reflect explicit and implicit motivations that are differentially associated with this behavior. Objectives: The present study hypothesized that implicit (alcohol purchase task) and explicit (positive expectancy for alcohol's effects) motivations for drinking would not be correlated. It was also hypothesized that greater implicit and explicit motivations would predict alcohol-related risk. Methods: Participants were 297 college student binge drinkers (54% female; 88% European-American; Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test: M=9.53, SD=5.04). Three indices from the alcohol purchase task (APT) were modeled as a latent implicit alcohol-related motivations variable. Explicit alcohol-related motivations were measured using a global positive expectancy subscale from the Comprehensive Effects of Alcohol Questionnaire. Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test total, Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index total, and age of drinking onset were modeled as a latent alcohol-related risk variable. Structural equation modeling was used to examine associations amongst implicit motivations, explicit motivations, and alcohol-related risk. Results: Implicit and explicit motivations were not correlated. Partially consistent with the second hypothesis, greater implicit motivations were associated with greater alcohol-related risk. Relations between explicit motivations and alcohol-related risk were marginally significant. Conclusions: Implicit and explicit drinking motivations are differentially associated with problem drinking behaviors. Future research should examine the underlying neurobiological mechanisms associated with these factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-692
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Alcohol expectancies
  • Behavioral economics
  • Binge drinking
  • College students
  • Explicit motivation
  • Implicit motivation
  • Structural equation modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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