A Prospective Examination of How Alcohol Consumption Might Drive Changes in Urgency and Drinking Motives Over the First Year of College
thesisposted on 2021-12-20, 16:22 authored by Christiana Jeannette PrestigiacomoChristiana Jeannette Prestigiacomo
Two impulsivity-related traits, negative and positive urgency (i.e., the tendency to act rashly in the face of extreme negative and positive emotions, respectively) are important risk factors for alcohol use escalation during college and for problematic and disordered level alcohol use, in part through increasing motives for alcohol use. The majority of research to date has focused on the causal direction from trait to motives to alcohol consumption. The goal of the current study was to conduct an initial test of how continued and escalating alcohol use may drive increases and shifts in positive and negative urgency, and how such changes drive subsequent increased drinking motives over the first year of college. Data were analyzed using an archival dataset of 418 first-year college students (age 18-21) enrolled in an introduction to psychology course at a large Midwestern university. Participants were sampled at three timepoints: at the beginning of the fall semester, the end of the fall semester, and the end of the spring semester. A series of hierarchical multiple regression and mediation analyses were used to test study hypotheses. Changes in alcohol use did not predict later changes in positive and negative urgency. Results did replicate previous research showing that changes in positive and negative urgency predicted later changes in drinking motives. Finally, there was some evidence that alcohol use at baseline predicted changes in enhancement drinking motives through changes in positive urgency; but this pattern was not seen with negative urgency. This work extends existing work with urgency theory, which has primarily focused on the effects of urgency on subsequent alcohol consumption and not the inverse. The fact that alcohol use drives subsequent changes in positive urgency and drinking motives can help to better identify mechanisms contributing increased risk for transition to problematic levels of alcohol consumption, can lead to better identification of those at risk for problematic alcohol use and can set the stage to better integrate urgency theory with other well-established alcohol risk models.