Alcohol representations are socially situated: An investigation of beverage representations by using a property generation task
Abstract Previous research suggests that people's representations of alcoholic beverages play an important role in drinking behavior. However, relatively little is known about the contents of these representations. Here, we introduce the property generation task as a tool to explore these representations in detail. In a laboratory study ( N = 110), and a bar field-study ( N = 56), participants listed typical properties of alcoholic beverages, sugary beverages, and water. Each of these properties was then categorized using a previously developed, hierarchical coding scheme. For example, the property “sweet” was categorized as referring to “taste”, which falls under “sensory experience”, which falls under “consumption situation”. Afterwards, participants completed measures of drinking behavior and alcohol craving. Results showed that alcoholic beverages were strongly represented in terms of consumption situations, with 57% and 69% of properties relating to consumption in the laboratory and the bar study, respectively. Specifically, alcoholic beverages were more strongly represented in terms of the social context of consumption (e.g., “with friends”) than the other beverages. In addition, alcoholic beverages were strongly represented in terms of sensory experiences (e.g. “sweet”) and positive outcomes (e.g. “creates fun”), as were the sugary beverages and water. In Study 1, the extent to which alcoholic beverages were represented in terms of social context was positively associated with craving and regularly consuming alcohol. The property generation task provides a useful tool to access people's idiosyncratic representations of alcoholic beverages. This may further our understanding of drinking behavior, and help to tailor research and interventions to reduce drinking of alcoholic and other high-calorie beverages.
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