FAB with Alcohol

From Weekly I/O#44

Fading affect bias can improve the overall positivity of life but also reinforce maladaptive behavior. It makes heavy drinkers harder and light drinkers easier to say no to alcohol.

Article: The fading affect bias across alcohol consumption frequency for alcohol-related and non-alcohol-related events

In Weekly I/O#43.2, I introduced a psychological phenomenon called Fading Affect Bias (FAB), which basically says our happy memories keep us happy for a longer time, while our bad memories won't make us unhappy long. It sounds pretty comforting in the first place but can also be harmful since it can reinforce maladaptive behavior. For people smack in the middle of quitting alcohol, FAB can make them forget how bad a hangover feels faster but retain the tipsy joy longer.

This research paper suggested that FAB can vary between low-frequency and high-frequency drinkers. For high-frequency drinkers, FAB is more noticeable in alcohol events than in non-alcohol ones. Therefore, that might make it harder for them to say no to alcohol in the future.

For low-frequency drinkers, FAB is less evident in alcohol events than in non-alcohol events. In other words, low-frequency drinkers won't forget the negative feeling in alcohol events as fast as in non-alcohol ones. They might find alcohol events so unique that they are unprepared to cope with the rapidly shifting and extreme emotions. Therefore, low-frequency drinkers might find their pleasant and unpleasant feelings associated with alcohol events fade at similar rates.

Though I said before that it is quite therapeutic to know good things stay longer than bad ones due to FAB, it is noteworthy that FAB may reinforce the tendencies of individuals by selectively making emotional responses fade slower or faster.

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