Catharine Edith Ann Fairbairn

Assistant Professor

Research Interests

  • Addiction
  • Alcohol
  • Social processes

Research Description

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.


Ph.D., University of of Pittsburgh

Recent Publications

Fairbairn, C. E., Velia, B. A., Creswell, K. G., & Sayette, M. A. (2020). A dynamic analysis of the effect of alcohol consumption on humor enjoyment in a social context. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 86, [103903].

Fairbairn, C. E. A., Rosen, I. G., Luczak, S. E., & Venerable, W. J. (Accepted/In press). Estimating the quantity and time course of alcohol consumption from transdermal alcohol sensor data: A combined laboratory-ambulatory study. Alcohol.

Fairbairn, C. E. A., & Kang, D. (2019). Temporal Dynamics of Transdermal Alcohol Concentration Measured via New-Generation Wrist-Worn Biosensor. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 43(10), 2060-2069.

Fairbairn, C. E. A., & Velia, B. A. (2019). Understanding social factors in alcohol reward and risk for problem drinking. In K. D. Federmeier (Ed.), Psychology of Learning and Motivation - Advances in Research and Theory (pp. 107-130). (Psychology of Learning and Motivation - Advances in Research and Theory; Vol. 71). Academic Press Inc..

Sayette, M. A., Creswell, K. G., Fairbairn, C. E. A., Dimoff, J. D., Katlin, B., & Talya, L. (2019). The Effects of Alcohol on Positive Emotion during a Comedy Routine: A Facial Coding Analysis. Emotion, 19(3), 480-488.

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