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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Roseann Hannon

First Committee Member

Martin T. Gipson

Second Committee Member

Kenneth L. Beauchamp


The literature on alcohol is replete with studies attempting to determine whether or not the relief of tension (i.e.; certain hypothesized aversive states such as fear, anxiety, and frustration, which ~an influence behavior) plays a role in the etiology of moderate and excessive drinking by humans. The classic presentation of the tension reduction hypothesis (TRH) by Conger (1956) provided the impetus for the analysis of chronic alcohol consumption using animal subjects. By applying established behaviorist principles to the problem of chronic excessive drinking he developed a theory which accounts fer this behavioral phenomenon. ·According to his theory, the response of drinking alcohol is one of many possible tension reducing responses in the organism's repertoire. This theory suggests that the human user of alcohol exhibits the drinking response as a consequence of some tension state and that the sedative action of alcohol serves as a reinforcer of the response by reducing the tension state.