Automatic effects of alcohol cues on sexual attraction
Version of Record online: 22 APR 2005
Volume 100, Issue 5, pages 672–681, May 2005
How to Cite
Friedman, R. S., McCarthy, D. M., Förster, J. and Denzler, M. (2005), Automatic effects of alcohol cues on sexual attraction. Addiction, 100: 672–681. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2005.01056.x
- Issue online: 22 APR 2005
- Version of Record online: 22 APR 2005
- Submitted 7 April 2004; initial review completed 7 September 2004; final version accepted 19 November 2004
Aims The present study tested whether suboptimal priming (which may be defined as ‘under viewing conditions rendering conscious identification highly improbable’) with alcohol-related stimuli would activate existing expectancies about alcohol's effects on sexual desire. It was predicted that alcohol cues, relative to non-alcohol cues, would activate expectancies of alcohol's aphrodisiac properties. We hypothesized that for men, stronger expectancies in this regard would predict an increased tendency to judge women as sexually attractive following the alcohol primes.
Design Two experimental studies manipulated cue (alcohol versus control) and rating dimension (attractiveness versus intelligence). Self-reported alcohol expectancies of sexual desire were assessed approximately 1 month prior to the study. Study 2 assessed additional expectancy content domains.
Setting and participants Study 1 comprised 82 undergraduate males and study 2 78 undergraduate males. Studies were conducted at the University of Missouri–Columbia, Columbia, Missouri, USA.
Interventions In both experiments, male participants were suboptimally primed with either alcohol-related or control words. Following this priming, they were presented with a series of photographs of young women and asked to either rate their attractiveness or their intelligence.
Findings and conclusions In both studies, a three-way interaction between cue, rating dimension and alcohol expectancies was found. Within the attractiveness rating condition a two-way interaction was found, indicating that in this condition, stronger expectancies that alcohol increases sexual desire predicted higher attractiveness ratings after suboptimal exposure to alcohol primes. No effects emerged in the intelligence rating condition. Discussion centers on implications for sexual risk-taking as well as a range of other non-consumptive behaviors.