Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Summer 2017

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Experimental Psychology

Committee Chair

Kara Gabriel

Second Committee Member

Susan Lonborg

Third Committee Member

Mary Radeke


The current study investigated the influence of marijuana and alcohol consumption and craving on a primed word stem completion (WSC) task. One hundred participants were randomly assigned to one of three prime conditions: Substance-prime, neutral-prime, and no-prime. In the substance- and neutral-prime conditions, participants were presented with a series of prime words. After a distracter task those participants who were presented with a series of prime words, all participants were given a multi-solution WSC task, which consisted of the initial two to four letters of a word for which the participants were instructed to complete with the first word that came to mind. The numbers of substance-related and neutral-prime solutions that were produced by each participant were tallied to produce a score. Participants were then further instructed to complete measures of alcohol and marijuana consumption and craving and these measures were used as covariates in a MANCOVA analysis. The primes had a significant effect on performance in the WSC task, with the substance-prime increasing the number of alcohol- and marijuana-related word solutions compared to the neutral- and no-prime conditions. Alcohol consumption significantly influenced the production of alcohol-related word solutions, but neither marijuana consumption nor craving was associated with the production of marijuana-related word solutions. These results demonstrate that both priming and past alcohol use significantly influenced performance on a WSC task, indicating the presence, at least in part, of a cognitive bias in those who use alcohol.