Generalized Anxiety Disorders & Alcohol Use Disorders

Remember in my first blog I said I was going to talk about “mean girls” and their lack of supportive behavior toward one another?  Well, this week I’m taking a little detour, looking instead at the relationship between alcohol consumption and anxiety. I located a scholarly article, “Drinking Refusal Self-Efficacy and Tension-Reduction Alcohol Expectancies Moderating the Relationship Between Generalized Anxiety and Drinking Behaviors in Young Adult Drinkers”, through the database PsycInfo, to which the Texas A&M Library has a subscription. I know that the article is scholarly because it was published in a peer-reviewed journal, Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

The article focuses on the nature of the relationship between generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and alcohol use disorders (AUD). The authors faced a “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” dilemma in that they wanted to examine which disorder caused the other and the complex relationship between the two disorders. Through previous studies, they found that cases in which generalized anxiety disorder was a precursor to alcohol use disorders were more severe, chronic, and difficult to treat than cases in which alcohol use disorder was the primary disorder. The social learning theory states that individuals’ behaviors and cognitions are established and reinforced through their interactions with the environment and other people. The two main cognitive expectancies associated with the consumption of alcohol are alcohol expectancies, or how individuals believe alcohol impacts their cognitions, mood, and behavior, and drinking refusal self-efficacy, one’s believed ability to successfully turn down an alcoholic beverage. These two cognitive concepts are thought to shape the relationship between social anxiety and heavy drinking behavior. The authors hypothesized that individuals with high generalized anxiety, high tension-reduction alcohol expectancies and low drinking refusal self-efficacy would report greater alcohol consumption and alcohol-related consequences than individuals with low generalized anxiety. Their hypothesis was supported by the data collected; the strongest correlation being between drinking refusal self-efficacy and the amount of alcohol consumed and amount of alcohol-related consequences (see graph below). Alcohol expectancies and drinking refusal self-efficacy were found to moderate the relationships between generalized anxiety disorders and drinking behaviors, as the authors theorized based on previous research. The authors conclude that generalized anxiety disorder may causally precede alcohol use disorders, but that further research must be done to generalize their findings to larger populations.

The article addresses a specific audience of psychologists and psychiatrists, more specifically those who specialize in addiction, alcohol misuse, and/or anxiety. Due to the particular audience, the authors use an abundance of scientific terms and do not explain the disorders in detail because prior knowledge is assumed. I believe that this article conveys a message about an ongoing investigation into the relationship between anxiety and using alcohol as a coping mechanism. The authors investigate new variables that have been previously overlooked, such as looking at generalized anxiety on a continuous scale by using participants who experience symptoms of generalized anxiety but are not clinically diagnosed. Until I have a chance to research a little further, safe to say that if you already suffer from anxiety disorders, alcohol is likely not the path to calm you are looking for.

Works Cited
“Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).” Anxiety and Depression Association of America,
2010. Web. 28 Oct. 2012. <http://www.adaa.org/understanding
anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad>.

Goldsmith, Abigail A., Rachel D. Thompson, Jessica J. Black, Giao Q. Tran, and Joshua
P. Smith. “Drinking Refusal Self-efficacy and Tension-reduction Alcohol
Expectancies Moderating the Relationship between Generalized Anxiety and
Drinking Behaviors in Young Adult Drinkers.” Psychology of Addictive
Behaviors
 26.1 (2012): 59-67.PsycINFO. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

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Industrial/Organizational Psychology

This week my thoughts turned to the workplace and the current efforts among many companies that use psychology to better their work environments. Industrial/Organizational psychology is a blend of both business and psychology. Psychologists in this field usually work as consultants and are hired by companies in Corporate America to help increase efficiency and employee satisfaction. They often work hand in hand with Human Resources departments and offer a wide range of services from improving work place conditions to offering advice on anger management. I/O psychologists aim to improve relationships between employees and their peers, as well as with their bosses. One practice is to install software on employees’ computers that shuts down their work computer after working over 70 hours in order to prevent employees from getting burnt out. There are also other programs that allow employees to go home for the day after accomplishing a certain amount of work or reaching a specific goal. Early release programs get rid of the drudgery that causes employees to sit idly at their desks in hopes of avoiding judgment for leaving the office early. Techniques like these allow bosses to get their employees to effectively complete the tasks that need to get done and simultaneously gain respect from their employees and help foster a positive relationship of trust and honesty. Google was ranked as the #1 company to work for mainly due to their unique corporate culture. They offer free meals to all of their employees, who have access to over 25 different cafes in the “Plex” as well as bocce ball courts, bowling alleys and free eyebrow shaping. Google also added a slide to their front office and painted the walls bright colors instead of the typical gray color scheme present in most office buildings. By offering employees an abundance of free services and extra perks, Mondays aren’t as dreadful and employees slowly learn to look forward to come into work. Companies have learned that a diverse work place fosters a range of new ideas; one task that I/O psychologists face is to find ways for a wide variety of workers to be satisfied within the company culture. Corporate America is typically a place of competition and cut-throat behavior, but I/O psychologists work with companies to promote a unified atmosphere of teamwork within the business. By alleviating competition within and promoting cohesive behavior, the consultants better the work environment and ultimately increase efficiency and productivity.

Works Cited

“100 Best Companies to Work For.” CNNMoney. Fortune, 2012. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/best-companies/2012/snapshots/1.html&gt;.

“Psychology & Career Choices.” EHow. EHow Money, 11 Feb. 2009. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <http://www.ehow.com/about_4781413_psychology-career-choices.html&gt;.

Mean Girls

The rain in College Station prompted me to stay in last Thursday, forget about school for a few hours and watch one of my favorite movies, “Mean Girls”. “Mean Girls” is a film centered on the “popular girls” in high school. A naive, Cady arrives at her first day of public school and immediately catches the attention of the Queen Bee, Regina George. Despite the affection she receives from the in crowd, Cady formulates a plan to infiltrate and “take down” the popular clique with help from her friends Janis and Damien, who have convinced her that the popular crowd is pure evil. Little does she know, Janis has her own personal, intrinsic motivation for destroying the group. A former member herself, Janis was publicly humiliated by Regina in middle school and is using “the Plastics’” new infatuation with Cady to achieve revenge. Although I really like this movie, I do wonder what prompts teenage girls to be so mean to each other almost arbitrarily. Regina is best  characterized by narcissistic personality disorder reflected in by her constant need of admiration (which she receives not only from her friend group, but from many other students who seem to idolize her) and her lack of empathy, shown in the movie by her “boy snatching” and merciless comments made humorous by the writers. Insecurity is also a popularly believed cause for malicious actions to one’s own friends. The Plastics are shown contemplating their flaws in front of a mirror as a typical after school routine and encourage the new member, Cady, to join in. Self-deprecation has become a social norm in their group and it breeds even more insecurity within the individual, yet makes other members of the Plastics feel slightly better about themselves. “At least I don’t have shoulders like Gretchen”, the girls use this tactic to bolster their confidence despite the fact that they tear each other down in the process. The “friends” are constantly making snarky comments towards one another in a battle to gain Regina’s approval. The group dynamic is not atypical amongst the subset of teenage girls, who often seek acknowledgement from the group’s leader. The humor used by the creators of the movie gets people to realize the truth and common occurrence of the strange rituals high school girls have come to accept as “normal” and shows how ridiculous they are in reality. The movie also showcases how easy it is to get caught up in “keeping up with the Joneses” and the materialistic nature of our society. The need to have the right jeans, the right purse, and perfect hair in order to avoid public ridicule from your so called friends gives the term friendship a whole new meaning. The behaviors learned through these high school survival rituals are often difficult to unlearn as we mature. We’ve all had that friend that makes us feel badly about ourselves, yet in the unlearning process we are slow to recognize the absence of true friendship; instead we are engage in a competition we didn’t plan to enter. Perhaps it is the unlearning process that causes us to ultimately have a few very dear friends, having shed those that haven’t matured past the high school rituals used to make them feel better about themselves.

Work Cited

Waters, M. (Director). (2004). Mean Girls [Motion Picture]. United States: Paramount

Pictures.