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Psychol Addict Behav. 2016 May;30(3):325-34. doi: 10.1037/adb0000178. Epub 2016 Apr 21.

Impulsivity moderates the effects of movie alcohol portrayals on adolescents' willingness to drink.

Author information

Department of Psychological Sciences.
Minnesota Department of Health.
University of Hawaii Cancer Center.
Department of Communications.


This study examined impulsivity as a moderator of adolescents' reactions to positive versus negative portrayals of drinking in American movie clips. Impulsivity, along with willingness and intentions to drink in the future, were assessed in a pretest session. In the experimental sessions, adolescents viewed a series of clips that showed drinking associated with either positive outcomes (e.g., social facilitation) or negative outcomes (fights, arguments). A third group viewed clips with similar positive or negative outcomes, but no alcohol consumption. All participants then responded to an implicit measure of attentional bias regarding alcohol (a dot probe), followed by explicit alcohol measures (self-reports of willingness and intentions to drink). Hypotheses, based on dual-processing theories, were: (a) high-impulsive adolescents would respond more favorably than low-impulsive adolescents to the positive clips, but not the negative clips; and (b) this difference in reactions to the positive clips would be larger on the willingness than the intention measures. Results supported the hypotheses: Adolescents high in impulsivity reported the highest willingness to drink in the positive-clip condition, but were slightly less willing than others in the negative-clip condition. In addition, results on the dot probe task indicated that RTs to alcohol words were negatively correlated with changes in alcohol willingness, but not intention; that is, the faster their response to the alcohol words, the more their willingness increased. The results highlight the utility of a dual-processing perspective on media influence. (PsycINFO Database Record.

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