Despite numerous alcohol interventions, alcohol use among college students remains a significant problem. Counterfactual thinking is a novel approach involving post-mortem thinking following a negative event. This approach is associated with changes in motivation and intentions. Recent research has found that modifying behavioral intentions to engage in protective behavioral strategies (PBS) has led to an increase in PBS use and reductions in alcohol use and consequences. The current study evaluated counterfactual thinking as a new intervention to increase PBS use intentions. A sample of college students completed web-based surveys assessing demographics, alcohol consumption, alcohol-related consequences and PBS use. Participants were then randomly assigned to a condition (Control, Negative event only, Negative event with description, or Negative event with counterfactual). Following this, participants reported intentions to engage in each PBS subtype over the next week. This study hypothesized that individuals who report a negative event and generate a counterfactual will endorse significantly greater intentions to 1) engage in Stopping/Limiting Drinking PBS than controls, 2) engage in Manner of Drinking PBS than controls, and 3) engage in Serious Harm Reduction PBS than controls. These hypotheses were analyzed through a multiple dependent variable path analysis with three endogenous indicators. Relative to control, the counterfactual condition resulted in greater PBS use intentions across all three PBS subtypes. Neither the negative event only nor the negative event with description resulted in higher PBS use intentions, relative to control. This study provides a new theory driven avenue for alcohol use interventions, utilizing counterfactual thinking to increase intentions to use safe drinking strategies.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)
De Leon, Ardhys, "A Test of Counterfactual Thinking Theory to Change Intentions to Use Protective Behavioral Strategies" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 205.
Restricted to the UCF community until August 2025; it will then be open access.