An experience sampling study of associations between affect and alcohol use and problems among college students

Jeffrey S. Simons, Raluca M. Gaher, Matthew N.I. Oliver, Jacqueline A. Bush, Marc A. Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Objective: This study used experienced sampling methodology to examine the relationship between affective functioning and alcohol consumption and problems. Method: Fifty-six college students provided baseline data on measures of impulsivity and distress tolerance and provided experience sampling data for 2 weeks on measures of negative affect, positive affect, and alcohol consumption and problems. Women made up 54% of the sample. The sample ranged in age from 21 to 23 (mean [SD] = 21.50 [0.57]); 98% were white and 2% were Asian. Results: As predicted, higher levels of both positive and negative affect during the day were associated with higher rates of consumption that night. In contrast, negative, but not positive, affect was associated with alcohol-related problems after controlling for alcohol consumption. Impulsivity was associated with higher consumption and problems and moderated the relationships between negative affect and problems and also between alcohol consumption and problems. Low distress tolerance was associated with a decreased association between positive affectivity and alcohol consumption. Conclusions: This study replicated and extended previous research on affective models of alcohol use and problems through the use of experience sampling methodology. The results demonstrated associations between affective variables and alcohol consumption and problems measured through near real-time assessment. The results suggest a functional association between alcohol consumption and problems and both within-person changes in affect and between-person differences in impulsivity and distress tolerance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-469
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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