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Alcohol expectancies and drinking refusal self-efficacy mediate the association of impulsivity with alcohol misuse

journal contribution
posted on 2010-08-01, 00:00 authored by M Gullo, S Dawe, Nicolas KambouropoulosNicolas Kambouropoulos, Petra StaigerPetra Staiger, C Jackson
Background: Recent work suggests that 2 biologically based traits convey risk for alcohol misuse: reward sensitivity ⁄ drive and (rash) impulsiveness. However, the cognitive mechanisms through which these traits convey risk are unclear. This study tested a model predicting that the risk conveyed by reward sensitivity is mediated by a learning bias for the reinforcing outcomes of alcohol consumption (i.e., positive alcohol expectancy). The model also proposed that the risk conveyed by rash impulsiveness (RI) is mediated by drinkers’ perceived ability to resist alcohol (i.e., drinking refusal self-efficacy).
Methods: Study 1 tested the model in a sample of young adults (n = 342). Study 2 tested the model in a sample of treatment-seeking substance abusers (n = 121). All participants completed a battery of personality, cognitive, and alcohol use questionnaires and models were tested using structural equation modeling.
Results: In both studies, the hypothesized model was found to provide a good fit to the data, and a better fit than alternative models. In both young adults and treatment-seeking individuals, positive alcohol expectancy fully mediated the association between reward sensitivity and hazardous alcohol use. For treatment seekers, drinking refusal self-efficacy fully mediated the association between RI and hazardous drinking. However, there was partial mediation in the young adult sample. Furthermore, neither trait was directly associated with the other cognitive mediator.
Conclusions: The hypothesized model was confirmed on a large sample of young adults and replicated on a sample of treatment-seeking substance abusers. Taken together, these findings shed further light on the mechanisms through which an impulsive temperament may convey risk for alcohol misuse.



Alcoholism : clinical and experimental research






1386 - 1399


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.


Hoboken, N.J.








Article first published online: 14 MAY 2010

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2010, by the Research Society on Alcoholism.