Dr. Kevin King and Matthew Vaughn tested whether differences in three impulsivity traits (premeditation, sensation seeking and negative urgency) moderated associations of reasoned (risk/disapproval attitudes and social norms) and reactive (prototype) pathway variables on expectation/willingness to drink and recent alcohol use.
Background: Drinking can occur because of expectations to drink (reasoned pathway) or because of willingness to drink under certain circumstances (reactive pathway). These pathways are thought to be influenced by different cognitions such as alcohol-related attitudes, norms, or drinking prototypes (Gerrard et al., 2008). Impulsive traits reflect individual differences in the influence of reasoned or reactive factors, however little research has investigated whether impulsivity moderates the effects of cognitive factors predicting alcohol use.
Objectives: We tested whether differences in three impulsivity traits (premeditation, sensation seeking and negative urgency) moderated associations of reasoned (risk/disapproval attitudes and social norms) and reactive (prototype) pathway variables on expectation/willingness to drink and recent alcohol use.
Methods: We collected data from n = 409 college students; the sample was 67% female, 43% Asian American, with Mdnage = 19. Hypotheses were tested using multiple regression.
Results: Premeditation and sensation seeking moderated reasoned variable effects on expectation and drinking. Among those low on premeditation, risk attitudes were most associated with drinking expectation, with alcohol prototypes most related to recent drinking. These effects declined at higher premeditation levels. Among those high on sensation seeking, risk attitudes were most associated with expectation and drinking, declining at lower sensation seeking levels. There was little evidence of moderation predicting drinking willingness.
Conclusions/Importance: Findings imply personality differences may explain association strength between reasoned but not reactive risk behavior pathways with alcohol outcomes. They have ramifications for personalized prevention programs to reduce drinking through cognition change, as alcohol-related cognition influence may differ depending on personality characteristics.
Vaughn, M. & King, K.M. (2016). Premeditation and sensation seeking moderate the reasoned action and social reaction pathways in the Prototype/Willingness Model of alcohol use. Substance Use and Misuse, 51, 711 – 721.