Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Catherine Forestell

Committee Members

Adrian Bravo

Cheryl Dickter

Julie Nance



The current study investigated children’s (N = 169, Mage = 10.12 years, SE = 1.45, 57.4% female) approach and avoidance responses to alcohol on the Approach-Avoidance Task (AAT) as a function of their previous direct exposure to alcohol and their gender. Consistent with our hypotheses, results indicated that children were faster to approach alcohol-related cues than non-alcohol-related cues regardless of their gender or their previous alcohol exposure. Contrary to our predictions, children who had tasted alcohol were not significantly faster to approach alcohol-related cues than children who had not tasted alcohol. Finally, our findings revealed that boys who had not tasted alcohol were significantly faster to approach alcohol-related cues than boys who had tasted alcohol. Given that sipping and tasting is the earliest alcohol use behavior children engage in, these findings contribute to our understanding of children’s progression into alcohol use and abuse. Further, because of the relationship between alcohol-approach biases and future drinking behavior, using the AAT to identify these motivational tendencies among children may aid in the prevention of early-onset drinking and alcohol dependence.

Keywords: Approach-avoidance task, motivational tendencies, early-onset drinking

On-Campus Access Only