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Monday, June 18, 2012

Trait-based affective processes in alcohol-involved risk behaviors

This study tested a theoretical model of alcohol use, markers of extreme intoxication, and risk behavior as a function of trait affect, distress tolerance, and affect-based behavior dysregulation. Positive affective pathways to risk behavior were primarily expected to be indirect via high levels of alcohol use, while negative affect paths were expected to be more directly associated with engagement in risk behavior. In addition, we expected trait affectivity and distress tolerance would primarily exhibit relationships with alcohol use and problems through behavioral dysregulation occurring during extreme affective states.

To evaluate these hypotheses, we tested a SEM with three alcohol–related outcomes: “Typical” alcohol use, “blackout” drinking,” and risk behavior.

Results were complex, but generally supported the hypotheses. High trait negative affect and low tolerance for affective distress contribute to difficulty controlling behavior when negatively aroused and this is directly associated with increased risk behavior when drinking. In contrast, associations between positive urgency and risk behaviors are indirect via increased alcohol consumption. Positive affectivity exhibited both inverse and positive effects in the model, with the net effect on alcohol outcomes being insignificant.

These findings contribute important information about the distinct pathways between affect, alcohol use, and alcohol-involved risk behavior among college students.

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