State anxiety and alcohol choice: Evidence from experimental and online observational studies

Maddy Dyer*, Alexander Board, Lee Hogarth, Steph F Suddell, Jon E Heron, Matt Hickman, Marcus R Munafo, Angela S Attwood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
110 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Experimental studies have investigated the effects of physical, psychological, and pharmacological stressors (that induce state anxiety) on alcohol outcomes. However, no study has investigated the effects of state anxiety on alcohol outcomes, and the moderating role of drinking to cope (DTC) motives, using the 7.5% carbon dioxide (CO2) challenge. Aims: We aimed to investigate the relationships between state anxiety and alcohol-related outcomes (primarily alcohol choice). We also explored whether DTC motives moderated these relationships. Methods: We conducted two experiments using the 7.5% CO2 challenge (Studies 1 and 2) and an observational study (Study 3) (ns = 42, 60, 219, respectively), to triangulate findings. Results: In Study 1, experimentally-induced state anxiety increased alcohol choice (p <.001, ηp2 = .29). This finding was replicated in Study 2, but the effect was weaker (p = .076, ηp2 = .06). Furthermore, DTC moderated the effect (p = .013, ηp 2 = .11). However, in Study 3 there was no clear evidence of an association between naturally-occurring state anxiety and alcohol choice (b = 0.05, p = .655), or a moderating role of DTC (b = 0.01, p = .852). Conclusions: Experimentally-induced, but not naturally-occurring, state anxiety increases alcohol choice, although state anxiety levels were lower in the non-manipulated sample.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2020


  • state anxiety
  • alcohol choice
  • 7.5% carbon dioxide
  • 7.5% CO2
  • drinking to cope
  • drinking motives
  • cognitive bias
  • alcohol craving
  • alcohol use


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