Motivational interventions for heavy drinking college students: examining the role of discrepancy-related psychological processes.

McNally (2005)
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The authors examined the effects of a brief motivational intervention for heavy, episodic alcohol use on discrepancy-related psychological processes. Heavy-drinking college students (N=73) were randomly assigned to a motivationally based intervention (MBI) or an assessment-only control (AC) condition. Cognitive (actual-ideal discrepancy) and affective (2 forms of cognitive dissonance) discrepancy processes were assessed at baseline and immediately following the experimental manipulation. At 6-week follow-up, MBI participants demonstrated significantly greater reductions in problematic drinking than AC participants. Moreover, actual-ideal discrepancy and negative, self-focused dissonance were significantly increased following the intervention (discomfort-related dissonance was not) and were correlated with outcome alcohol involvement. These discrepancy processes did not, however, mediate the relationship between condition and outcome. The findings lend some support to the role of discrepancy enhancement in drinking-related behavior change among college students.