Mediators and Moderators of the Relationship between trait urgency and Alcohol Use

Dinc, Linda. 2014. Mediators and Moderators of the Relationship between trait urgency and Alcohol Use. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The studies in this thesis sought to further validate the role of impulsivity facets, in particular the urgency facets (rash actions in response to intense positive or negative emotions), as risk factors for different patterns of alcohol use and related problems. Previous research has supported the use of mood based dispositions to rash action in predicting a wide range of maladaptive behaviours. However, these studies have predominantly relied on correlational research designs, and there has been limited consideration of variables that may mediate or moderate links between the impulsivity facets and alcohol use. The first three studies described in the thesis employed correlational designs to examine whether urgency facets predict alcohol use and problems over and above other UPPS-P facets, and the mechanisms through which urgency leads to alcohol use and related problems (e.g. drinking motives, executive functions) among a group of college students (n=140, n= 386, n=62 respectively for study 1, study 2, and study 3). The following two studies used experimental designs to assess the effects of alcohol use on executive functions and behavioural risk taking as moderated by trait urgency (n= 82); and the potential moderating effects of high activation positive mood states on the relationship between positive urgency and beer consumption (n=110). Consistent with previous research, the first three studies revealed that urgency facets predicted alcohol use and problems beyond the other three facets of the UPPS-P. Additionally, the relationship between impulsivity facets and the three patterns of alcohol use was mediated through different drinking motives; while the relationship between negative urgency, sensation seeking, lack of perseverance and weekly total alcohol use was mediated by peer pressure motives, the relationship between negative urgency, sensation seeking and problem use was mediated by coping and peer pressure motives, and the relationship between lack of perseverance, sensation seeking and binge use of alcohol was mediated by enhancement and peer pressure motives. Study 3 demonstrated that lack of perseverance, but not the urgency facets, moderated the effects of alcohol use on distractor interference. Study 4 showed that the acute effect of alcohol on prepotent response inhibition was moderated through sensation seeking; negative urgency was directly and positively related to prepotent response inhibition and risk taking, while positive urgency was negatively associated with distractor interference. Finally, study 5 found that positive urgency led to increases in beer consumption following high activation positive mood induction, as opposed to low activation and neutral mood conditions. Overall, the role of urgency showed incremental validity beyond previously identified risk factors. These findings, combined with prior cross-sectional and longitudinal field studies, provide strong support for the unique contribution of urgency in rash actions. Additionally, sensation seeking and lack of perseverance emerged as strong determinants of prepotent response inhibition and distractor interference, respectively, among college students who consume alcohol excessively. The studies in this thesis support the notion that impulsivity is a multi-faceted construct, and highlight the function of each facet in alcohol use and related problems, and the role of other contributing factors (e.g. drinking motives, executive functions, and positive mood) in this relationship.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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Impulsivity, Alcohol, Positive Affect, Executive Functions.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



3 October 2014

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Date Deposited:

03 Oct 2014 15:20

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:29


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