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Presented by Heather Flowe, University of Birmingham, School of Psychology at the Society for Research on Alcoholism annual meeting, San Diego, CA, June 2018
This study tested the effects of alcohol-intoxication on how accurately women remember forensically relevant information from a hypothetical rape scenario. A balanced placebo design was employed, with participants (N=78) randomly assigned to alcohol dose (.00% versus .075% BAC) and alcohol expectancy (told tonic versus told alcohol) conditions. Memory was tested seven days later. Mean memory accuracy was higher for information about pre-assault consensual sexual activities compared to the perpetrator’s actions during the offense (M=86% [CI.95: 81-89%] versus M=51% [CI.95: 46-56%]). Mean memory accuracy was higher if women expected to consume alcohol rather than tonic water (M = 72% [CI.95: 67-77%] versus M = 65% [CI.95: 60-70%], respectively), suggesting alcohol expectancy led to hypervigilance during encoding. Consuming alcohol compared to tonic water did not affect memory accuracy for consensual sexual activities (M=86% [CI.95: 80-91%] versus M=86% [CI.95: 81-89%], respectively) or for the perpetrator’s actions (M=47% [CI.95: 39-54%] versus M = 55% [CI.95: 48-63%], respectively). Calibration analyses indicated that accuracy increased with confidence level, regardless of intoxication level or alcohol expectancy condition, but that women tended to be overconfident in general. Implications and limitations of the research will be discussed.