Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Psychology (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Jessica Brooks


The semantic network model of memory states that concepts closely related (e.g., pencil-paper) are stored together in memory (Posner & Snyder, 1975). When one concept is activated, other related concepts becoming more accessible, which increases the likelihood that related concepts will influence behavior. Past research has established a link between aggressive behaviors after exposure to alcohol-related words (Bartholow, Grosvenor, Pedersen, Truong, & Vasquez, 2014). Previous research has also shown that alcohol outcome expectancies contribute to problematic drinking behavior (Fromme, Stroot, & Kaplan, 1993). In the present study, alcohol outcome expectancies of each participant were assessed by the CEOA questionnaire. Then, participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: control – aggression, control – non-aggression, alcohol – aggression, or alcohol – non-aggression. The two alcohol conditions included priming with alcohol-related words (beer, vodka), and the two control conditions including priming with non-alcoholic words (milk, soda) by use of the Lexical Decision Task. The current study sought to explore the effect of alcohol-related stimuli priming on the expression of relational aggression in a sample of 70 college students (Mage = 19.40; SD = 1.64). Statistical analyses revealed a significant difference between the control – aggression group and the alcohol – aggression group on the rating of experimenter performance using a three-item hostility assessment. These findings show the effect of alcohol-related words on an individual’s relational aggression behaviors, without the involvement of any alcohol consumption. Implications, limitations, and future directions are further discussed.