Dual process models of alcohol addiction propose that the transition from normative alcohol consumption to heavy drinking is the result of an imbalance in interplay between relatively impulsive or automatic and reflective or controlled processes. The current study examines whether impulsive and reflective processes are also detectable in a sample of adolescents with limited alcohol use.
Specifically, we tested the interaction between alcohol approach tendencies and 2 types of reflective processes, working memory capacity (WMC) and alcohol-specific rule-setting, on changes in alcohol use of 238 young adolescents (mean age: 13.82 years). Gender differences in these associations were also explored.
Results showed that WMC did not moderate the relation between approach tendencies and subsequent alcohol use, whereas rule-setting did, with stronger associations between approach tendencies and alcohol use for male adolescents reporting more permissive parents than male adolescents with parents enforcing stricter rules involving alcohol use. Associations between approach tendencies and subsequent alcohol use did not emerge for female adolescents.
Results indicate that even in a sample of adolescents with limited drinking experience, automatic processes are positively associated with alcohol use for male adolescents that are not motivated by parents to control their drinking.
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