Dispositions to Rash Action Moderate the Associations Between Concurrent Drinking, Depressive Symptoms, and Alcohol Problems During Emerging Adulthood


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Abstract

“Impulsivity” has been consistently identified as a key personality predictor of alcohol-related problems and subsequent alcohol use disorder. Multiple prior studies have demonstrated impulsivity is an individual difference factor that strengthens the effects of some risk factors, such as alcohol consumption and depressive symptoms, on alcohol problems. However, recent research indicated common measures of impulsivity actually reflect multiple dispositions toward rash action, and that alcohol problems were most consistently related to one of those dispositions, negative urgency. Little research has examined how specific dispositions to rash action may act as putative moderators of other risk factors for alcohol problems. The goal of the current study was to test which dispositions to rash action moderated the effects of concurrent alcohol use or depressive symptoms on alcohol problems. Using a large cross-sectional sample of college students (n = 573), the current study utilized semicontinuous regression models, which allow prediction of both the likelihood and level of alcohol problems. Negative urgency was found to be the main predictor of alcohol problems, above and beyond other dispositions to rash action, which replicates prior research. However, each of the other dispositions exhibited risk-enhancing effects on the relations between either depressive symptoms or alcohol use and concurrent alcohol problems. Specifically, lower levels of premeditation enhanced the association between depressive symptoms and alcohol problems, while lower perseverance and higher sensation seeking were related to more alcohol problems at higher levels of alcohol use. Results suggest that multiple dispositions to rash action were related to problematic alcohol use both directly and via their interaction with other risk factors.

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