Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (vi, 96 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Edelgard Wulfert

Committee Members

Mitch Earleywine, Julia Hormes


alcohol, distress tolerance, expectancies, psychophysiology, women, Women, Distress (Psychology), Alcoholism, Galvanic skin response

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


The current study explored risk factors for alcohol misuse in women. Past research suggests that negative emotions and stress responsivity may be causally related to alcohol use in women. Based on negative reinforcement models of alcohol use, it was hypothesized that low levels of behavioral distress tolerance (behavioral DT; defined as the ability to persist in goal-directed behavior in the face of psychological distress) may put women at greater risk of alcohol misuse particularly in the context of positive expectancies about the tension-reducing qualities of alcohol. Additionally, the study explored physiological underpinnings of behavioral distress tolerance, and particularly how skin conductance reactivity may affect levels of distress tolerance and incrementally predict alcohol consumption. The results supported the overall predictive strength of relaxation expectancies in predicting alcohol consumption in women. Although behavioral DT did not independently predict in-lab consumption, a near-significant result was found when behavioral DT's interaction with expectancies was examined. Among women with low behavioral DT, those with concurrent high expectancies consumed significantly more than those with low relaxation expectancies. However, the hypothesis about skin conductance reactivity and expectancies predicting drinking was not supported. By combining these three predictor variables (behavioral DT, skin conductance reactivity, and relaxation expectancies) into one moderation model, the study found that drinking behavior in women with low DT is particularly influenced by physiological reactivity and by expectancies about the relaxing effects of alcohol; for women with high DT, these factors did not play as significant a role.