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Craving, Behavioral economics, Approach, Avoidance, Alcohol

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Although behavioral economics tends to focus on environmental factors (i.e., price, availability) that act to influence valuation of alcohol, recent research has begun to address how motivational and cognitive factors influence an individual's demand for alcohol. Motivational states, including craving, are one possible mechanism underlying the value based decision making that demand represents. Using a multidimensional model of craving (Ambivalence Model of Craving), the current study examined the relationships between indices of alcohol demand (i.e., reinforcing value of alcohol) and craving (i.e., approach inclinations), and the ways in which competing desires moderate that relationship (i.e., avoidance inclinations). Individuals who reported consuming alcohol in the past month were recruited for the study using Amazon's Mechanical Turk. A total of 529 participants (mean age = 33.03 years, SD = 8.85) completed a series of surveys assessing their drinking behavior and other alcohol-related measures. Multiple regression analyses indicated that while approach significantly predicted intensity (i.e., consumption at zero cost), Omax (i.e., the maximum alcohol expenditure) and breakpoint (i.e., the first price that seizes consumption), avoidance moderated the relationship between approach and Omax and breakpoint. Specifically, follow up analyses demonstrated that higher avoidance inclinations attenuated the effect of approach inclinations on these demand indices. Finally, despite conceptual overlap between approach, avoidance, and alcohol demand, regression analyses indicated that these constructs account for unique variance in alcohol outcomes. These results illustrate the importance of considering the effects of both approach and avoidance inclinations on an individual's valuation of alcohol.

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Addictive Behaviors, v. 79, p. 61-67

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