American Alcohol Photo Stimuli (AAPS): A standardized set of alcohol and matched non-alcohol images

<p><i>Background</i>: Photographic stimuli are commonly used to assess cue reactivity in the research and treatment of alcohol use disorder. The stimuli used are often non-standardized, not properly validated, and poorly controlled. There are no previously published, validated, American-relevant sets of alcohol images created in a standardized fashion. <i>Objectives</i>: We aimed to: 1) make available a standardized, matched set of photographic alcohol and non-alcohol beverage stimuli, 2) establish face validity, the extent to which the stimuli are subjectively viewed as what they are purported to be, and 3) establish construct validity, the degree to which a test measures what it claims to be measuring. <i>Methods</i>: We produced a standardized set of 36 images consisting of American alcohol and non-alcohol beverages matched for basic color, form, and complexity. A total of 178 participants (95 male, 82 female, 1 genderqueer) rated each image for appetitiveness. An arrow-probe task, in which matched pairs were categorized after being presented for 200 ms, assessed face validity. Criteria for construct validity were met if variation in AUDIT scores were associated with variation in performance on tasks during alcohol image presentation. <i>Results</i>: Overall, images were categorized with >90% accuracy. Participants’ AUDIT scores correlated significantly with alcohol “want” and “like” ratings [<i>r</i>(176) = 0.27, <i>p</i> = <0.001; <i>r</i>(176) = 0.36, <i>p</i> = <0.001] and arrow-probe latency [<i>r</i>(176) = −0.22, <i>p</i> = 0.004], but not with non-alcohol outcomes. Furthermore, appetitive ratings and arrow-probe latency for alcohol, but not non-alcohol, differed significantly for heavy versus light drinkers. <i>Conclusion</i>: Our image set provides valid and reliable alcohol stimuli for both explicit and implicit tests of cue reactivity. The use of standardized, validated, reliable image sets may improve consistency across research and treatment paradigms.</p>