Drinking Motives Mediate the Association between Personality and High-Intensity Drinking in a Sample of Underage Drinkers
Researchers have long been interested in identifying risk factors for binge drinking behavior (4+/5+ drinks/occasion for females/males), but many studies have demonstrated that a substantial proportion of young adults are drinking at levels far beyond (often 2-3 times) the standard binge threshold (Patrick et al., 2017). The consumption of such large quantities of alcohol, typically referred to as high-intensity drinking (HID), can cause severe alcohol-related problems, such as blackouts, unintended sexual experiences, and even death (Hingson et al., 2017). This study is the first to investigate whether drinking motives mediate the relationship between personality and HID in a large (N=999) sample of underage drinkers. We hypothesized that coping motives will mediate the positive association between neuroticism and HID and that social and enhancement motives will mediate the positive association between extraversion and HID. To investigate these hypotheses, we used two archival datasets that recruited current underage (18-20 year old) adult drinkers residing in the United States from online panel services. Results showed that coping motives partially mediated the positive association between neuroticism and HID. In addition, social and enhancement motives fully mediated the positive association between extraversion and HID. These findings provide an initial step toward examining the interplay between drinking motives and personality traits in predicting heavy drinking in underage drinkers and point to the potential clinical utility of prevention and intervention programs targeting drinking motives for these at-risk populations who are high in neuroticism and/or extraversion.