Professional Education

  • Predoctoral Clinical Internship, VA Palo Alto Health Care System (2021)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh (2021)
  • Master of Science, University of Pittsburgh (2016)
  • Bachelor of Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (2013)

Stanford Advisors

Research Interests

  • Psychology

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

I am interested in elucidating factors that contribute to initiation, maintenance, and exacerbation of substance use, as well as problematic substance use consequences. To date, I have largely focused on investigating psychosocial aspects of social drinking experiences via naturalistic, experimental, and meta-analytic studies.

I additionally seek to use scholarly advocacy to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion within clinical and academic spaces.

All Publications

  • The effect of alcohol on mood among males drinking with a platonic friend ALCOHOLISM-CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH Bowdring, M. A., Sayette, M. A. 2021


    Despite the social nature of most drinking experiences, prior work has largely failed to incorporate social context into the study of alcohol's effects on emotion. The present study provides an initial test of the effect of alcohol on mood among platonic friends drinking together in a non-stress setting. We hypothesized that subjects would report more positive postdrink mood after consuming alcohol than after consuming a nonalcoholic control beverage.Dyads of platonic male friends (n = 36; 55.55% White, 38.88% Asian, 5.55% Black) attended two laboratory-based experimental sessions, wherein their drink conditions (alcohol vs. no alcohol control) were randomized by dyad and counter-balanced across sessions. They reported their mood before and after consuming their beverages together, using the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule and an 8-item mood measure.As hypothesized, alcohol enhanced positive mood ( β  = 0.26, p < 0.01). Although in the expected direction, the effect of alcohol on negative mood was not significant ( β  = -0.12, p = 0.17). Post hoc analyses revealed that alcohol yielded greater increases in both stimulation ( β = 0.26 , p = 0.00) and sedation ( β = 0.40 , p = 0.00) as compared to the control condition.This study highlights the positive mood-enhancing and broader subjective effects of alcohol when drinking with a platonic friend and encourages further consideration of friendship contexts in the examination of alcohol's effects when developing models of the etiology of alcohol use disorder.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/acer.14682

    View details for Web of Science ID 000686551800001

    View details for PubMedID 34342007

  • Editorial: A Call to Action for an Antiracist Clinical Science JOURNAL OF CLINICAL CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHOLOGY Galan, C. A., Bekele, B., Boness, C., Bowdring, M., Call, C., Hails, K., McPhee, J., Mendes, S., Moses, J., Northrup, J., Rupert, P., Savell, S., Sequeira, S., Tervo-Clemmens, B., Tung, I., Vanwoerden, S., Womack, S., Yilmaz, B. 2021; 50 (1): 12-57
  • Perception of physical attractiveness when consuming and not consuming alcohol: a meta-analysis ADDICTION Bowdring, M. A., Sayette, M. A. 2018; 113 (9): 1585-1597


    Elucidating why people drink and why drinking can lead to negative psychosocial consequences remains a crucial task for alcohol researchers. Because drinking occurs typically in social settings, broader investigation of the associations between alcohol and social experience is needed to advance understanding of both the rewarding and hazardous effects of alcohol use. This review aimed to (a) estimate alcohol's relation to the perception of others' physical attractiveness and (b) suggest theoretical and methodological considerations that may advance the study of this topic.Systematic review of Scopus and PsycInfo databases was conducted to identify experimental and quasi-experimental studies, with either between- or within-subjects designs, that assessed attractiveness ratings provided by individuals who had and had not consumed alcohol (k = 16 studies, n = 1811). A meta-analysis was conducted to evaluate alcohol's aggregate association with physical attractiveness perceptions. Separate a priori secondary analyses examined alcohol's associations with perception of opposite-sex (k = 12 studies) and same-sex (k = 7 studies) attractiveness.The primary analysis indicated that alcohol was related significantly to enhanced attractiveness perceptions [d = 0.19, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.05-0.32, P = 0.01; I2  = 5.28, 95% CI = 0.00-39.32]. Analysis of alcohol's association with perception of opposite-sex attractiveness similarly yielded a small, significant positive association (d = 0.30, 95% CI = 0.16-0.44, P < 0.01; I2  = 17.49, 95% CI = 0.00-57.75). Alcohol's relation to perception of same-sex attractiveness was not significant (d = 0.04, 95% CI = -0.18 to 0.26, P = 0.71; I2  = 54.08, 95% CI = 0.00-81.66).Experimental and quasi-experimental studies suggest that consuming alcohol may have a small effect of increasing perceived attractiveness of people of the opposite sex.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/add.14227

    View details for Web of Science ID 000440644200003

    View details for PubMedID 29660184

  • In the Eye of the Beholder: A Comprehensive Analysis of Stimulus Type, Perceiver, and Target in Physical Attractiveness Perceptions JOURNAL OF NONVERBAL BEHAVIOR Bowdring, M. A., Sayette, M. A., Girard, J. M., Woods, W. C. 2021; 45 (2): 241-259
  • Pleasant olfactory cues can reduce cigarette craving. Journal of Abnormal Psychology Sayette, M. A., Marchetti, M. A., Herz, R. S., Martin, L. M., Bowdring, M. A. 2019; 128 (4)

    View details for DOI 10.1037/abn0000431

  • Using Placebo Beverages in Group Alcohol Studies ALCOHOLISM-CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH Bowdring, M. A., Sayette, M. A. 2018; 42 (12): 2442-2452


    Placebo beverage conditions remain a key element in the methodological toolkit for alcohol researchers interested in evaluating pharmacological and nonpharmacological factors influencing the effects of alcohol consumption. While interest in experimentally examining alcohol in social context is on the rise, there has been little research examining the effectiveness of placebo manipulations in group settings, when just 1 suspicious participant could potentially jeopardize the effect of the placebo on group members. Moreover, research has rarely considered the association between individual difference factors (e.g., gender) and placebo manipulation effectiveness. The present study, using an uncommonly large sample of placebo-consuming participants, was well suited to investigate fundamental questions regarding placebo efficacy that have not been assessed previously. Specifically, we aimed to examine placebo efficacy and general processes of placebo functioning in a group context. We also assessed potential associations between a variety of individual difference factors and placebo response.A total of 240 participants (50% male) consumed placebo beverages during a triadic drinking period (across 80 three-person groups). Participants reported their subjective intoxication, stimulation, and sedation 8 minutes following drink consumption and estimated the alcohol content of their drink at the end of the study.Participants consuming placebo beverages in groups were nearly universal in reporting that they had consumed alcohol (>99%) and had experienced an increase in feelings of intoxication [t(239) = 22.03, p < 0.001] and stimulation [t(239) = 5.53, p < 0.001], levels that were similar to those observed in prior studies conducted with participants drinking placebos in isolation. Further, participants' placebo responses were independent of their 2 group members and were largely unaffected by a variety of individual difference factors.Placebo response generally operated independently of group-member influences, suggesting that researchers can successfully conduct placebo beverage studies utilizing group drinking designs.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/acer.13895

    View details for Web of Science ID 000456922700016

    View details for PubMedID 30247751

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6286248

  • Predictors of At-Risk Intoxication in a University Field Setting: Social Anxiety, Demographics, and Intentions JOURNAL OF AMERICAN COLLEGE HEALTH Smith, R. C., Bowdring, M. A., Geller, E. 2015; 63 (2): 134-142


    The determinants of alcohol consumption among university students were investigated in a downtown field setting with blood alcohol content (BAC) as the dependent variable.In total, 521 participants completed a brief survey and had their BAC assessed during April 2013.Between 10:00 pm and 2:00 am, teams of researchers recruited passersby at 3 heavy-drinking locations near a university campus. Before the BAC assessment, participants completed a questionnaire regarding their drinking intentions, drinking group, and social anxiety.The average BAC of drinking students was 0.107 g/dL, which was 0.033 g/dL higher than their intended BAC. Males and members of a Greek-life organization consumed significantly more alcohol than their demographic counterparts. A significant positive curvilinear relationship was observed between social anxiety and BAC.University students achieve high levels of intoxication, often exceeding their intended BAC. Social anxiety may be an informative predictor of alcohol consumption in this setting.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/07448481.2014.990968

    View details for Web of Science ID 000349538500002

    View details for PubMedID 25437018