Improving assessment of impaired control over alcohol use for individuals of diverse racial and ethnic identities

Supervising Faculty: Frances Wang, PhD

Contact: Frances Wang,

Area of Research: Clinical Psychology

Description of Research: The goal of the Alcohol Survey Knowledge (ASK) study is to improve the assessment of a core construct underlying alcohol use disorder called impaired control, which is defined as the inability to control one’s drinking. Participants across diverse racial and ethnic identities, and who experience a range of heavy drinking behaviors and alcohol use disorder symptoms, will be enrolled to complete Cognitive Interviewing. Cognitive interviewing is a qualitative research method that will elicit the thought processes underlying participants’ responses to a battery of existing and new impaired control questions. Dr.

Wang aims to identify new ways to describe impaired control that capture the actual lived experience of losing control over drinking, which will improve the assessment of and studies on alcohol use disorder. Dr. Wang also conducts research on the genetic risk factors underlying alcohol use disorder. Thus, interested students may also gain experience in this area through directed readings, independent research projects, and involvement in potential future genetic data collection efforts.

Duties of Students:

  • Coding of cognitive interviews (e.g., thematic analysis)
  • Data entry (e.g., impaired control battery)
  • Contribute to participant recruitment efforts
  • Attend study specific meetings and lab wide Journal Club/educational seminars • Prepare end of semester direct research project


  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • 12 credits of Psychology (including current term)
  • STAT 0200/1000/1100 Statistics
  • PSY 0036 Research Methods Lecture
  • PSY 0037 Research Methods Lab
  • Minimum of 2 credit hours and 2 terms are necessary for sufficient time to be trained in all required research methods.

Recruitment Process: All students are asked to submit an unofficial transcript and resume. Meetings with Dr. Wang are scheduled for all students who demonstrate academic excellence in psychology coursework and preferentially for those who have experience working with clinical populations. During the meeting, Dr. Wang introduces herself describing her educational background (research and clinical), provides an overview of the research study aims, the range of student responsibilities, and student expectations with an emphasis on research integrity and professionalism with participants. Students are asked about their experience and comfort working with clinical populations. They are also asked to describe their goals for participation in directed research and how this

lab aligns with their future career goals. They are told that they do not have to decide immediately and instead should consider if the lab/project is a good fit for them and respond by e-mail once they have decided. Students will be enrolled with a rolling acceptance until all spots are filled. In the case that more students simultaneously apply than spots are available, preference will be given to students who have comfort with the research methods and protocol. In line with the YFRP commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion, students who demonstrate understanding of the socio-historically based structural disadvantage that affects people of color and/or knowledge of stigma and discrimination against the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ+) community are preferred.

Terms offered: Fall, Spring, Summer

Number of Students: 5