Trait-based affective processes in alcohol-involved "risk behaviors"

Tyler B. Wray, Jeffrey S. Simons, Robert D. Dvorak, Raluca M. Gaher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


This study tested a theoretical model of alcohol use, markers of extreme intoxication, and risk behavior as a function of trait affect, distress tolerance, and affect-based behavior dysregulation. Positive affective pathways to risk behavior were primarily expected to be indirect via high levels of alcohol use, while negative affect paths were expected to be more directly associated with engagement in risk behavior. In addition, we expected trait affectivity and distress tolerance would primarily exhibit relationships with alcohol use and problems through behavioral dysregulation occurring during extreme affective states. To evaluate these hypotheses, we tested a SEM with three alcohol-related outcomes: "Typical" alcohol use, "blackout" drinking, and risk behavior. High trait negative affect and low tolerance for affective distress contribute to difficulty controlling behavior when negatively aroused and this is directly associated with increased risk behavior when drinking. In contrast, associations between positive urgency and risk behaviors are indirect via increased alcohol consumption. Positive affectivity exhibited both inverse and positive effects in the model, with the net effect on alcohol outcomes being insignificant. These findings contribute important information about the distinct pathways between affect, alcohol use, and alcohol-involved risk behavior among college students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1230-1239
Number of pages10
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Affect
  • Alcohol
  • Impulsivity
  • Risk behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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