Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Robert Schlauch, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Diana Rancourt, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jack Darkes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eun Sook Kim, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Judith Bryant, Ph.D.


Alcohol, Harm Reduction, Executive Functions


Alcohol harm reduction strategies are health behaviors that aim to minimize the likelihood or severity of consequences associated with alcohol use. Despite the demonstrated usefulness of harm reduction strategies, there is variability in who and when the strategies are used, leading to the question “if they work, why not use them all the time?” One potential explanation is a discrepancy between the intention to drink safely and actually drinking safely, termed the intention-behavior gap. It is unclear to what extent college drinkers plan on engaging in safe drinking behaviors but fail to follow through. It is plausible some drinkers have the intention to drink safely but lack the ability to effectively initiate and execute the harm reduction behaviors. As such, executive functions (EF: cognitive abilities associated with goal-directed behavior) may be one mechanism that helps explain the gap between safe drinking intentions and behavior. Using ecological momentary assessment, the current study explored the extent to which an intention-behavior gap in harm reduction strategy use exists among college student drinkers (n=77), and investigated how potential individual differences in EF (i.e., working memory, set-shifting, and inhibition) were associated with translating intentions of drinking safely into action. Daily monitoring assessments contained brief measures of intention to use harm reduction strategies, actual strategy use, and alcohol-related behaviors, and were assessed daily for twenty-one days. Multilevel model analyses revealed that although intention to use strategies predicted actual strategy use, measures of EF did not significantly moderate the relationship. Efforts to increase intentions to use alcohol harm reduction strategies should be included in alcohol use prevention and intervention programs for all drinkers, regardless of differences in EF ability.