Disentangling between- and within-person alcohol and expectancy effects on acute alcohol craving

Jack T. Waddell, Scott E. King, William R. Corbin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Alcohol craving is a predictor of continued drinking and a diagnostic criterion for alcohol use disorder. Rewarding subjective effects potentiate craving, but it remains unclear if relations are expectancy-driven vs. alcohol-induced. In addition, it remains unclear if relations operate solely at the person level, or if there is also within-person dynamic change. Methods: Participants (N = 448) come from a placebo-controlled alcohol administration study. Participants in the alcohol condition reported subjective effects and alcohol craving on ascending (BAC =.068), peak (BAC =.079), and descending (BAC =.066) BAC limbs. Participants in the placebo condition were yoked to alcohol condition participants. Multilevel models tested whether (1) within-person deviations in subjective effects predicted within-person deviations in craving, (2) between-person levels of subjective effects predicted between-person levels of craving, and (3) effects were dependent upon experimental condition. Results: At the within-person level, increases in high arousal positive/stimulant effects were associated with within-person increases in alcohol craving, regardless of experimental condition. At the between-person level, interactions were observed between high arousal positive/stimulant (and low arousal positive/relaxing) effects and condition. Probing suggested that the association between person-level high arousal positive/stimulant effects and craving was statistically significant in the alcohol but not the placebo condition. Conversely, the association between person-level low arousal positive/relaxing effects and craving was positive and statistically significant in the placebo but negative in the alcohol condition. Conclusions: Findings suggest expectancy-like relations among high arousal positive/stimulant effects and craving within-person. However, alcohol-induced positive reinforcement (i.e., stimulation) facilitated heightened person-level craving, whereas expectancy-like negative reinforcement (i.e., relaxation) attenuated person-level craving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1333-1342
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Alcohol craving
  • Alcohol expectancies
  • Placebo
  • Subjective response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Disentangling between- and within-person alcohol and expectancy effects on acute alcohol craving'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this