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Publication Date

Summer 2017

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Mark Van Selst


Alcohol, Cognitive Performance, Stress, Stroop Effect

Subject Areas

Cognitive psychology; Behavioral sciences; Behavioral psychology


In this study the joint effects of alcohol and stress on Stroop interference were examined. The

version of the Stroop Task used required a vocal identification of the target color (“red,”

“green,” “blue,” “yellow”) of words that spelled color names (RED, GREEN, BLUE,

YELLOW). A version of the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) was used as a stress inducer for

half of the participants (25 men, 24 women; 21-45 years old), whereas those in the control

condition watched a video about tortoises. In a fully crossed between-subjects design, alcohol

dose was also manipulated. Half of the participants received a body weight-based dose of 0.65

g/kg alcohol (intended to bring the participant to a blood alcohol content [BAC] of .08, with

women receiving an 88% dose to target a similar BAC), while those in the control group

received a placebo dose. The results indicated an overall decrease in reaction time (RT) and

accuracy rates across time, and no other interactions tested were significant. A main effect

of congruency on Stroop interference was present in both RT and accuracy rates. Additionally,

stress produced faster responses and marginally larger degrees of Stroop interference on

accuracy rates. Alcohol ingestion did not produce, singly or jointly with stress, an impact on

Stroop interference; had there been an effect, it would have been captured in interactions

across time. An implication of this study is that stress and alcohol did not interact with each

other; in other words, both components functioned differently under the conditions presented

in this investigation. Another implication is that the Stroop Task used in the study was not as

cognitively demanding as we had expected.