Cynthia D. Mohr

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Psychology



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 185 p.) : ill. (some col.)


Drinking of alcoholic beverages -- Psychological aspects, Alcohol -- Social aspects, Drinking of alcoholic beverages -- Social networks, Stress management




Researchers have argued that in times of need having supportive, caring people available can make all the difference between achieving optimum health and well-being or suffering from mental or physical illness (Cobb, 1976; Sarason & Sarason, 1985; Thoits, 1986). The direct-effect model of support postulates that having the knowledge of available relationship resources (i.e., perceived support) and receiving benefits from those relationships (i.e., received support) both have beneficial effects on health behaviors and well-being (Cohen & Wills, 1985). According to the stress-buffering model, when stressors are encountered, the certainty of having available resources, as well as having tangible support resources, is hypothesized to lessen the negative effects of stressors (Cohen, et al., 2000; Cohen &Wills, 1985, Cutrona, 1986; Thoits, 1986). Most of the research that has examined social support effects on drinking-related outcomes has focused on the association between support and alcohol problems, particularly among high risk populations (those who are alcohol dependent, alcohol abusers, or adolescents). Yet, it could be argued that when examining drinking levels, not all consumption is harmful. Of particular concern is drinking that is motivated to reduce negative or stressful experiences. Individuals who use drinking as a method of avoidant coping, or reducing tension drink significantly more alcohol and be at a greater risk for developing later drinking problems (Cooper, Russell, & George, 1988). Research employing daily process methodology has been able to resolve documented methodological inconsistencies (e.g., Greeley & Oei, 1999) by examining the within-person processes between negative experiences and alcohol consumption (Tennen & Affleck, 1996; Tennen, Affleck, Armeli, & Carney, 2000; Mohr et al., 2008). Similarly, these methodologies have been useful to social support researchers in helping to understand social support as a within-person process rather than just an interpersonal event between two individuals. This research was part of a larger study about the influence of alcohol use on daily emotion regulation among 47 moderate-to-heavy drinking adults in the local metropolitan area. Participants carried a personal data assistant (handheld interviewer) for 30 days, responding to surveys three times each day (late afternoon, evening). Each survey probed supportive and negative interpersonal exchanges and drinking behaviors. Prior to the daily diary portion of the study, participants completed the Interpersonal Support Evaluation List, a measure of perceived social support. For purposes of analyses, I examined the extent to which exchanges occurring in an earlier interview predicted subsequent solitary drinking at home using data from 2 of the three interviews (predicting evening and late evening drinking only). My analyses revealed that daily socially supportive exchanges had a significant direct effect on subsequent drinking at home alone. Interestingly, the daily supportive exchanges did not buffer the negative exchanges-later drinking relationship. However, my findings revealed that negative exchanges also resulted in a reduction in subsequent consumption, which contrasts previous studies that used similar methodologies but with heavier drinkers (e.g., Mohr et al., 2001). Further, perceived support was not related to solitary consumption. The results of this study indicate that in healthy adults, positively appraised received support directly reduces solitary consumption. This is an important finding given that received support is difficult to document. At the same time, my results showed that among these types of drinkers, negative exchanges may have a stronger direct effect than positive exchanges on solitary consumption. In non-clinical samples, such as this the relationship between social support and drinking is not straightforward. Thus, using a sophisticated methodology (i.e., daily process methods), this study was able to examine the relationship of drinking and social support on a daily basis; thus, further bridging the gap between social support and the drinking literature.


Portland State University. Dept. of Psychology

Persistent Identifier