The role of positive urgency in alcohol-related risk-taking: an experimental investigation
The relationship between positive urgency, a personality trait reflecting rash action during extreme positive emotional states, and risk-taking has previously been experimentally examined. However, how positive urgency is related to risk-taking while under the acute influence of alcohol has not been examined. The overarching goal of this dissertation was to generate behavioral evidence concerning how the interaction between positive urgency and alcohol consumption influences risk-taking via changes in emotional arousal. In this study, 59 community-dwelling adults (mean age = 29.45 (SD = 10.96), 32.2% women, 78% White) completed mood induction procedures (positive or neutral) while consuming a beverage (alcohol or placebo) and then completed the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) as a measure of risk-taking. The positive mood induction was effective in inducing high arousal positive emotions. Overall, study hypotheses were not supported; however, because of low power, effect sizes and patterns of relationship are reported. The relationship between positive urgency and risk-taking was positive and small in the positive mood condition but negative and small in the neutral mood condition. The alcohol group and the placebo group showed similar patterns of risk-taking that are positive and small. Finally, the relationship between positive urgency changes in emotional arousal was positive and small only in the positive/alcohol condition; however, there was no relationship between changes in emotional arousal and risk-taking. These findings suggest that, while changes in emotional arousal may result from a combination of positive urgency and alcohol consumption, it may not be a focal mechanism that explains the relationship between positive urgency and risk-taking. Further, positive urgency is a risk factor whether or not alcohol consumption is present. Although the small sample size limited the power to test the hypotheses, the effect size estimates obtained in this study provide preliminary data for a more properly powered future study. The pattern of findings suggests the viability of further developing the current positive mood induction to establish a lab-based paradigm for positive urgency and the use of a different experimental risk-taking task to examine positive emotion-based risk-taking.