Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Craig A. Field


Alcohol use disorder has been identified as one of the major burdens of disease but also remains one of the disorders with the lowest treatment prevalence. For individuals who seek treatment for their alcohol use disorder, they may experience barriers that impact their treatment for alcohol use disorder. These barriers may extend to a person’s beliefs, attitudes, and stigma. While attitudes and beliefs refer to their perceived need for treatment and beliefs of self-reliance, stigma is multistep process that makes way for stereotypes, prejudice, and acts of discrimination to take place. With labels such as “alcoholic” implying negative connotation and being frequently used, the fear of being stigmatized and negatively labeled often results in delayed or entirely avoided care. Attitudes towards stigmatized and other groups have primarily been examined using explicit measures of bias. While thought to be the most convenient way to learn about a person’s attitude, these measures may be affected by introspective limits and response factors. As such, explicit measure may succumb to social desirability. Research has turned to use of implicit measures such as the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to assess an individual’s unconscious and uncontrollable associations. The IAT is a validated task asking participants to quickly associate stimulus items with one of the two contrasting categories. The IAT measures response latency such that stronger associations are easier to pair resulting in faster response times and fewer errors made. While IATs have been used to assess biases toward vulnerable groups, the present study is among the first to psychometrically assess a measure of implicit bias toward persons with an alcohol use disorder through the lens of contact theory. Participants (n=175, 54.3% male) completed a developed IAT categorizing target categories (i.e., alcoholic versus non-alcoholic) and value categories (approach versus avoid), and also completed explicit measures of stigma. The IAT D-score was calculated and used to assess construct validity. Pearson correlations were also used to assess convergent and predictive validity. Results indicated small but significantly negative IAT D-scores, indicative of negative implicit bias toward people with alcohol use disorder. Exploratory analyses indicated that drinkers and children of alcoholics had an implicit bias toward people with alcohol use disorder, not in line with contact theory which would suggest that contact with stigmatized and other groups decreases prejudice ad increases positive attitudes. The IAT was not associated with explicit measures. However, initial results of the present study provide evidence of negative implicit attitudes toward alcohol use disorder. Future research should further assess negative implicit attitudes toward persons with alcohol use disorder, test the stability of the IAT using test-retest, and use multinomial processing tree analyses to further examine conscious and unconscious biases toward people with alcohol use disorder.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

75 p.

File Format


Rights Holder

Erin Marie Portillo