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

Sirlanci, M., Luczak, S. E., Fairbairn, C. E. A., Kang, D., Pan, R., Yu, X., & Rosen, I. G. (2019). Estimating the distribution of random parameters in a diffusion equation forward model for a transdermal alcohol biosensor. Automatica, 106, 101-109.

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.

Fairbairn, C. E. A., & Velia, B. A. (2019). Understanding social factors in alcohol reward and risk for problem drinking. In Psychology of Learning and Motivation - Advances in Research and Theory (Psychology of Learning and Motivation - Advances in Research and Theory). Academic Press Inc..

Sirlanci, M., Rosen, I. G., Luczak, S. E., Fairbairn, C. E. A., Bresin, K., & Kang, D. (2018). Deconvolving the input to random abstract parabolic systems: A population model-based approach to estimating blood/breath alcohol concentration from transdermal alcohol biosensor data. Inverse Problems, 34(12), [125006].

Fairbairn, C. E. A., Briley, D. A., Kang, D., Fraley, R. C., Hankin, B. L., & Ariss, T. (2018). A meta-analysis of longitudinal associations between substance use and interpersonal attachment security. Psychological bulletin, 144(5), 532-555.

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