The role of affective memories and mood in judgments of alcohol use
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Contemporary approaches to understanding the correlates and predictors of alcohol use have focused increasingly on the role of affective memories and moods in higher-level cognitive processes such as judgment formation and decision-making. Affective memories are believed to comprise individuals’ earliest reactions to a given stimulus concept (e.g., alcohol) and the strength and valence (i.e., positive or negative) of the affect associated with a concept is believed to influence the nature of one’s judgments and behavior toward that concept. Two indirect measures of affective memories hold promise as predictors of alcohol-related judgments. The imagery approach assesses the strength and valence of affective reactions to concepts associated with drinking alcohol, whereas the expectancy approach measures the accessibility of alcohol-related consequences in memory. In addition to affective memories, mood state appears to be an important situational/contextual factor influencing judgments and behavior, although very little research has examined how moods influence judgments about alcohol. Consequently, two separate studies evaluated the influence of affective memories and mood state on alcohol-related judgments. vi Study 1 replicated past research by showing that imagery affect estimates and positive consequence accessibility are significantly associated with alcohol judgments when statistically controlling for mood state. Study 2 tested whether experimentally induced moods resulted in either mood congruent or incongruent effects for both alcohol judgments and affective memories and the extent to which past experience with alcohol moderated these effects. Contrary to expectations, no mood effects were observed. While Study 1 reinforces the importance of affective memories in higher-level cognitive phenomena such as judgments, Study 2 contributes to an array of conflicting results regarding the impact of moods on alcohol-related judgments and behavior and highlights the importance of future exploration of the factors that moderate mood effects.