Introduction: As research on implicit (in the sense of fast/reflexive/impulsive) alcohol associations and alcohol advances,
there is increasing emphasis on understanding the circumstances under which implicit alcohol associations predict drinking.
In this study, we investigated habitualness of drinking (i.e., the extent to which drinking is automatic or occurs without
thinking) as a moderator of the relations between several measures of implicit alcohol associations and key drinking outcomes.
A sample of 506 participants (57% female) completed web-based measures of implicit alcohol associations (drinking identity,
alcohol approach, and alcohol excitement), along with indicators of habitualness, and typical alcohol consumption, alcohol
problems, and risk of alcohol use disorders.
Results: As expected, implicit alcohol associations, especially drinking
identity, were positively associated with, and predicted unique variance in, drinking outcomes. Further, habitualness emerged
as a consistent, positive predictor of drinking outcomes. Contrary to expectations, habitualness rarely moderated the relation
between implicit alcohol associations and drinking outcomes.
Conclusions: Although moderation was rarely observed,
findings indicated that even mild levels of habitualness are risky. Findings also continue to support implicit alcohol associations,
particularly drinking identity, as a risk factor for hazardous drinking. Collectively, this suggests the importance of targeting
both in prevention and intervention efforts.