Author

Katie Berg

Date of Award

5-14-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Thesis

Department

General Science

First Advisor

Tara Lineweaver

Abstract

Caffeine use is common, but few studies have examined how the expectancies that people hold about caffeine relate to the effects they experience after consuming it. My study examined how typical caffeine consumption and students' expectancies about how caffeine generally affects them influence their decisions about caffeine use as well as their performance on memory and attention tests. I hypothesized that expectations about how caffeine affects students would interact with their beliefs about how much caffeine they had consumed to impact performance on tests of attention and memory. Undergraduate students were divided into four groups: high consumption and high expectancy, high consumption and low expectancy, low consumption and high expectancy, low consumption and low expectancy. After being told they would compete for the best scores on memory and attention tests, participants chose a high (80mg), moderate (35mg), or no caffeine drink. They were then informed that they had been randomly assigned to consume either the high caffeine (80mg) or no caffeine drink, although both drinks were in reality caffeine-free. After 20 minutes, participants completed several tests of attention and memory. Students' typical consumption patterns and expectancies did not influence the frequency with which they selected the high, moderate, or no caffeine drink; however, males chose drinks with more extreme amounts of caffeine (Omg or 80mg), whereas females chose drinks with low (Omg) or moderate (35mg) amounts of caffeine most frequently. Performance on memory and attention tasks was not generally influenced by students' caffeine expectancies and the drink they believed they consumed. Significant effects, in a pattern opposite to my hypothesis, emerged on one attention measure. CAFFEINE EXPECTANCY.