Abstract

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.

Notes

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Graduation Date

2020

Semester

Summer

Advisor

Dvorak, Robert

Degree

Master of Science (M.S.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Psychology

Degree Program

Psychology Clinical

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0008154; DP0023496

URL

https://purls.library.ucf.edu/go/DP0023496

Language

English

Release Date

August 2025

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)

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