Speeches, strangers, and alcohol use: The role of context in social stress response dampening

Publication year: 2011
Source: Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, Volume 42, Issue 4, December 2011, Pages 462-472

Lindsay S., Ham , Hilary G., Casner , Amy K., Bacon , Jennifer A., Shaver

According to the Stress Response Dampening model, problem drinking develops after learning that alcohol limits the stress response in anxiety-provoking situations. However, laboratory-based studies testing alcohol’s effects on social anxiety have yielded mixed results. The current study was the first to examine stress response dampening across two contexts: a performance-based (a speech) and an interaction-based (a conversation) social situation. Undergraduates (N = 62; Mage = 22.85; 31% women; 81% Caucasian) were randomly assigned to consume an alcoholic (target BAC = .08%; n = 22), placebo (n = 20), or nonalcoholic control (n = 20) beverage followed by the anxiety-inducing social tasks. Results revealed a 3 (alcohol condition) × 2 (social task condition) × 4 (measurement point)…

 Highlights: ► Significant alcohol group × social task condition × measurement point interaction. ► Anxiety varied across alcohol conditions for the speech, but not the conversation. ► Results did not support stress response dampening for either social situation. ► Increased anxiety after the speech for the placebo group.