Reinforcing Efficacy Moderates the Relationship Between Impulsivity-Related Traits and Alcohol Use


Studies have shown that impulsivity-related traits are associated with alcohol use among college students. It is possible that individual differences in susceptibility to reinforcement from alcohol, which reflects the extent to which an individual values alcohol, moderates this relationship. Data were collected from 255 college students at a large, urban university who reported consuming alcohol at least once in the past 30 days. Two impulsivity-related-traits, Urgency and Sensation Seeking, were examined, as well as the reinforcing efficacy indices of Omax (maximum alcohol expenditure) and Demand Intensity (consumption when price = zero). Findings indicated that Omax moderated the relationship between both impulsivity-related traits and alcohol consumption, and between Urgency and alcohol-related problems. Demand Intensity also moderated the relationship between both impulsivity-related traits and alcohol use, but did not moderate the relationship between either trait and alcohol-related problems. Results from this study suggest that college students high in certain impulsivity-related traits and for whom alcohol is a highly valued reinforcer have a high risk for excessive alcohol consumption and an increased probability of experiencing negative alcohol-related problems. © 2010 American Psychological Association.

Publication Title

Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology