Person-Environment Transactions in Youth Drinking and Driving

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Drinking and driving is a significant health risk behavior for adolescents. This study tested mechanisms by which disinhibited personality traits (impulsivity and sensation seeking) and aspects of the adolescent home/social environment (parental monitoring and alcohol accessibility) can influence changes in drinking and driving behavior over time. Two hundred two high school age youths were assessed at 2 time points, approximately 8 months apart. Zero-inflated Poisson regression analyses were used to test (a) an additive model, where personality and environmental variables uniquely predict drinking and driving engagement and frequency; (b) a mediation model, where Time 2 environmental variables mediate the influence of disinhibited personality; and (c) an interaction model, where environmental factors either facilitate or constrain the influence of disinhibited personality on drinking and driving. Results supported both the additive and interaction model but not the mediation model. Differences emerged between results for personal drinking and driving and riding with a drinking driver. Improving our understanding of how malleable environmental variables can affect the influence of disinhibited personality traits on drinking and driving behaviors can help target and improve prevention/intervention efforts.

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