Catharine Edith Ann Fairbairn, Assistant Professor

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Personal profile

Professional Information

I'm interested in how alcohol impacts social interactions and how alcohol’s social rewards might contribute to disordered drinking. More specifically, I explore how alcohol's ability to foster feelings of social closeness and facilitate social bonding might be helpful in understanding the roots of heavy drinking and addiction. Questions I’ve examined in my work include: How does alcohol impact perceptions of social rejection? Do people at risk for alcohol use disorder gain more social reward from alcohol than others? Might specific social drinking contexts be particularly likely to foster alcohol reward? I come at these questions using a range of experimental and non-experimental methods, including ambulatory methods, employing objective transdermal measurement of Blood Alcohol Content, and laboratory-based alcohol administration methods, using group drinking paradigms and anatomically-based facial measures of social reward.

Research Interests

  • Addiction
  • Alcohol
  • Social processes

Education/Academic qualification

Ph.D., University of of Pittsburgh

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Research Output 2008 2019

Estimating the distribution of random parameters in a diffusion equation forward model for a transdermal alcohol biosensor

Sirlanci, M., Luczak, S. E., Fairbairn, C. E. A., Kang, D., Pan, R., Yu, X. & Rosen, I. G., Aug 1 2019, In : Automatica. 106, p. 101-109 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Normal distribution
Computational methods
Dynamical systems

Estimating the quantity and time course of alcohol consumption from transdermal alcohol sensor data: A combined laboratory-ambulatory study

Fairbairn, C. E. A., Rosen, I. G., Luczak, S. E. & Venerable, W. J., Jan 1 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Alcohol.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

alcohol consumption
Alcohol Drinking
Biosensing Techniques

The Effects of Alcohol on Positive Emotion during a Comedy Routine: A Facial Coding Analysis

Sayette, M. A., Creswell, K. G., Fairbairn, C. E. A., Dimoff, J. D., Katlin, B. & Talya, L., Apr 1 2019, In : Emotion. 19, 3, p. 480-488 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Understanding social factors in alcohol reward and risk for problem drinking

Fairbairn, C. E. A. & Velia, B. A., Jan 1 2019, Psychology of Learning and Motivation - Advances in Research and Theory. Federmeier, K. D. (ed.). Academic Press Inc., p. 107-130 24 p. (Psychology of Learning and Motivation - Advances in Research and Theory; vol. 71).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Alcohol Drinking
Research Personnel