Daily affect and alcohol consumption: the role of cognitions and social context


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background and aim: Previous research regarding the relationship between affective states, social context and alcohol-related cognitions has yielded inconsistent findings with regards to how these factors shape alcohol behaviours. This thesis therefore aimed to contribute a better understanding of the relationship between daily affect, social context, cognitions and alcohol consumption in non-clinical populations.
Methods: Studies 1 and 2 used PRISMA-guided systematic reviews with meta-analyses to examine how daily affect is associated with alcohol consumption volume and drinking likelihood. Study 3 represents an ecological momentary assessment investigation of the association between affect, social context, and drinking volume during COVID-19 lockdown. Study 4 examined the extent to which momentary thoughts may contribute to the amount of alcohol consumed. Study 5 looked at the association of affect and within- and between-person drinking motives on drinking intentions, onset, volume, and intoxication.
Results: Both positive and negative affective states were found to be associated with increased consumption quantity (Study 1) while this does not seem to be the case for daily drinking likelihood, as only positive but not negative affect appears to be associated with higher odds of drinking on a given day (Study 2) as. An affect intensity regulation model of alcohol consumption was consequently proposed, which emphasises affect intensity rather than valence as a predictor of consumption volume. Study 3 found that being with others was associated with increased consumption during lockdown which, in turn, was associated with increased negative affect on the next day. Despite that, the opportunity to interact with others was associated with decreased negative affect, emphasising the paradoxical effects of social context on people’s affective states. Study 4 suggests that thinking about leisure activities and about alcohol was predictive of decreased subsequent drinking during lockdown. Finally, Study 6 found that, as the UK was emerging of the national lockdown, having increased between-person social drinking motives was protective against increased consumption and intoxication. The study also showed that between- and within-person coping drinking motives were associated with drinking intensions but not commencement, volume, or intoxication. On the other hand, within-person enhancement motives were associated with drinking onset and volume, but not intoxication, suggesting that people may have been drinking more but not necessarily stronger drinks.
Conclusion: Adding to an evidence base that has historically produced mixed results, this thesis helps clarify what appears to be a nuanced and complex relationship between daily affect and alcohol consumption. Findings suggest that while positive affect and enhancement motives are associated with drinking commencement, people may not necessarily decide to consume alcohol in order to cope with negative affect. However, where drinking has already commenced both increased positive and negative affect appear to be modestly associated with the amount, but not the strength, of alcohol consumed. Exploratory findings further indicate that thinking about leisure activities and social drinking motives may be protective against increased consumption, while being with someone may be a risk factor. It is suggested that prevention efforts may benefit from targeting support on days characterised by increased levels of positive affect and on days on which individuals are with others.
Date of Award31 Oct 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorDerek Heim (Director of Studies) & REBECCA MONK (Director of Studies)


  • alcohol consumption
  • affective states
  • cognitions
  • social context
  • substance use
  • mood
  • emotions
  • positive affect
  • negative affect

Cite this