Integrating Acquired Preparedness and Dual Process Models of Risk for Heavy Drinking and Related Problems

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Abstract

The acquired preparedness model (APM) posits that alcohol expectancies mediate effects of personality traits on drinking outcomes, whereas the dual process model (DPM) suggests that top-down behavioral control (e.g., self-control) moderates the impact of bottom-up risk factors such as alcohol expectancies. This study sought to integrate the APM and DPM by examining the extent to which indirect effects of impulsive sensation seeking on drinking outcomes are moderated by self-control. We hypothesized that the APM may hold more strongly for people who are higher in self-control, as they may engage in alcohol use for the explicit purpose of meeting sensation-seeking goals. Data were from 462 participants (ages 15–63 years; 58.4% male) who completed 1 of 5 studies affiliated with the Center for the Translational Neuroscience of Alcoholism. Consistent with the APM, higher levels of impulsive sensation seeking were associated with stronger positive expectancies, which, in turn, contributed to heavier drinking and related problems. Consistent with the DPM, among nondependent drinkers, indirect effects of impulsive sensation seeking on alcohol use were present only among those who were high in self-control. These findings suggest that expectancy challenges may be most effective for those with high levels of self-control prior to the development of alcohol dependence. However, future studies integrating the APM and DPM should include both implicit and explicit measures of expectancies to address the possibility that individuals with lower levels of self-control may be more influenced by automatic or implicit influences and may, therefore, respond well to implicit expectancy challenges.

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