Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Mark T. Fillmore

Abstract

Alcohol research has shown that alcohol-related stimuli can disrupt behavioral control and attract more attention in alcohol drinkers. Stimuli typically used in tasks assessing these mechanisms are likely representative of an individual's history. Responses to visual stimuli that no longer closely resemble an individual's history may help shed light on whether these behaviors are due to classical conditioning or processes such as semantic priming. Hypotheses were tested using typical visual stimuli and modified, abstract versions in these tasks. 41 participants were exposed to these stimuli types while using a visual dot probe task. The difference in degree of attentional bias between real and modified stimuli was determined using gaze time. Individuals participated in two versions of the attentional bias-behavioral activation (ABBA) task. Proportion of inhibitory failure differences between versions was examined for the effects of stimuli modification on behavioral control. Results demonstrated that the sample did not exhibit an attentional bias to alcohol. Visual probe results yielded no differences between real and modified stimuli on attentional bias. ABBA performance indicated no differences as a result of image abstraction or stimuli type. Reasons for these findings and comparisons to similar research inquiries using the tasks the current thesis utilized were explored.

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