Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Frederick X. Gibbons

Second Advisor

Meg Gerrard

Third Advisor

Frederick O. Lorenz


The current study investigated the effect of perceived control and stress on binge drinking cognitions (i.e., willingness and intention to binge drink). College students (N = 158) were randomly assigned to a high stress (delivering a speech) or low stress (writing an essay) condition and answered items regarding their willingness and intention to binge drink (counter-balanced as a between-subjects factor). While completing the questionnaire, participants were exposed to an aversive auditory stimulus; the ability to mute the stimulus was randomly assigned to manipulate perceived control.;It was hypothesized that high stress would elicit an increase in binge drinking cognitions, and that perceived control would determine whether that change was reflected in willingness (high control) or intention (low control). Manipulation checks showed that a significant minority of participants experienced perceived control and stress incongruent with their randomly assigned conditions; therefore, an internal analysis was conducted. A significant Perceived Control x Stress Index interaction was found for willingness: participants low in perceived control and high in stress, as well as those high in perceived control and low in stress, exhibited the highest willingness. No such effect was found for intention. Likewise, no significant effects were found for question order.;Two individual difference measures moderated the effect of perceived control on binge drinking cognitions. For intention, locus of control interacted with manipulated control and stress: participants whose control condition matched their locus of control (i.e., high control condition and internal locus of control; low control condition and external locus of control) exhibited the highest intention, but only when stress was low. Secondly, for willingness and intention, propensity to cope using alcohol interacted with perceived control: the highest binge drinking cognitions were found for participants who reported little tendency to use alcohol as a coping mechanism and experienced low perceived control, and those who reported a high tendency to cope using alcohol and experienced high perceived control.;These results suggested that binge drinking is most likely when college students are at ease. The highest willingness and intention were found for participants that were in the least aversive conditions, suggesting that these participants may have experienced a sense of relief that induced binge drinking cognitions. Except for participants who experienced low perceived control and high stress (the most aversive combination), low willingness and intention were found for participants under aversive conditions. It may be that the academic setting and focus on task performance deterred participants from endorsing binge drinking, as this activity would hinder their current goal state. Only under the most extreme aversive conditions did willingness to binge drink increase.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Ross Edward O'Hara



Proquest ID


OCLC Number




File Format


File Size

97 pages