Allecia Reid, the William and Margaret Montgoris Assistant Professor of Psychology, researches how social factors influence health behaviors, including young adults’ consumption of alcohol. Now, as the winner of a Fulbright research award for 2016-17, she will spend a sabbatical at the University of Liverpool, in England, testing a novel strategy for reducing alcohol consumption by focusing on mimicry—a behavior that results in heavy drinking as people try to keep up with their peers.
Reid earned her Ph.D. at Arizona State and worked on social factors that affect health behaviors during postdocs at Yale and Brown, the latter specifically focused on how college peers influence drinking. At Colby, where she joined the faculty in 2013, she works with student research assistants to understand influences that lead to heavy drinking and interventions that can change behaviors for better health outcomes.
“It takes only a few minutes of observing alcohol use in social settings to see that mimicking others’ alcohol use is common,” Reid wrote in her Fulbright proposal. In Liverpool she will work with Eric Robinson and Matt Field, leading researchers studying alcohol mimicry in controlled experiments.
The Fulbright will cover travel and living expenses, and funding from Colby, including funding associated with her named faculty chair, will fund the research.
“This award will support our collaborative effort in testing a novel strategy for reducing alcohol mimicry,” according to an abstract of Reid’s Fulbright proposal. “Drawing on theories of the motivations underlying mimicry, we propose to test whether affirming one’s self-worth by reflecting on important values reduces alcohol mimicry. … This is the first step in a collaborative program of research that aims to understand and reduce mimicry of peer alcohol use.”
After receiving news of the award Reid said in an email, “My ultimate goal is to be able to carry out alcohol mimicry studies at Colby. This project will enable me to do that. It will be an interesting study for students to be involved in, both as research assistants, and on the other side, as the participants whose behavior we are trying to influence.”
Read more about Professor Reid’s research and teaching in the spring 2015 Colby Magazine.