Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Committee Chair

James Murphy

Committee Member

Nicholas Simon

Committee Member

Rory Pfund


Relative discretionary expenditures towards alcohol (RDEA) is a behavioral economic measure that uses patterns of resource allocation (money) to alcohol versus other activities as an index of the relative reinforcing efficacy of alcohol. RDEA can be predictive of treatment response and is positively associated with alcohol use and consequences, but has not been validated in a diverse sample of emerging adults. This study hypothesized that RDEA would be an indicator of alcohol use severity and investigated associations among RDEA, alcohol use, and alcohol problems, as well as relationships among two measures of relative reinforcing efficacy (RRE) to establish construct validity in a diverse sample of emerging adults (N = 526, 57.6% female, 45.4% White, 39.7% Black) who reported recent heavy drinking (3/4+ drinks for women/men at least twice in the last month). RDEA was positively and significantly associated with weekly drinking (r = .34, p < .001) and alcohol problems (r = .34, p <.001) as well as other measures of relative reinforcing efficacy (rs = .11 to .27, ps <.01). RDEA was a significant predictor of weekly drinking after controlling for sex and income, and of alcohol problems after controlling for sex, income, and weekly drinking. In conclusion, this study provides further support for the validity of behavioral economic measures of relative resource allocation to substances versus alternatives as indicators of alcohol problem severity.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest


Open Access