Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Emily R. Grekin


Computer-delivered, brief interventions (CDBIs) have been an increasingly popular way to treat substance use disorders; however, very few studies have examined which characteristics of CDBIs maximize intervention effectiveness. The literature has consistently demonstrated that therapist empathy is associated with reduced substance use; however, it is unclear whether this principal applies to CDBIs. Therefore, one aim of this study was to examine whether the presence of an empathic narrator increases motivation to reduce heavy drinking in a CDBI. A second aim was to examine whether an individual’s personality traits (empathy, psychopathy, and Big Five Traits) interact with treatment characteristics (specifically high vs. low empathy). Results suggested that empathy did not influence motivation to reduce drinking across the entire sample, but that certain personality characteristics interacted with narrator empathy. Specifically, individuals with low conscientiousness and high neuroticism had greater readiness to change with the high empathy narrator, whereas individuals with high reactance, openness, and fearless dominance reported greater readiness to change with the low empathy narrator.