Tears in Your Beer: Gender Differences in Coping Drinking Motives, Depressive Symptoms and Drinking

  • Dawn W. FosterEmail author
  • Chelsie M. Young
  • Mai-Ly N. Steers
  • Michelle C. Quist
  • Jennifer L. Bryan
  • Clayton Neighbors


This study evaluates associations between coping drinking motives (CDM; drinking to regulate negative affect), depressive symptoms, and drinking behavior and extends the literature by also taking into account gender differences. Two hundred forty-three college students (Mean age = 22.93, SD = 6.29, 82 % female) participated. Based on previous research, we expected that CDM would be positively associated with drinking and problems, particularly among those higher in depressive symptoms, as individuals experiencing higher levels of negative affect (i.e. depressive symptoms) and who drink to cope are likely to drink more and experience more alcohol-related problems. Lastly, based on established gender differences, we expected that CDM would be positively associated with drinking and problems, especially among females higher in depressive symptoms. Unexpectedly, findings suggested that CDMs were positively related to peak drinking, especially among those lower in depressive symptoms. Results further revealed a significant three-way interaction between CDM, depressive symptoms, and gender when predicting alcohol-related problems and drinking frequency. Specifically, we found that CDM were more strongly associated with problems among women who were lower in depressive symptoms; whereas CDM were more strongly associated with problems among men who were higher in depressive symptoms. These findings offer a more comprehensive depiction of the relationship between depressive symptoms, CDM, and drinking behavior by taking into account the importance of gender differences. These results provide additional support for considering gender when designing and implementing alcohol intervention strategies.


Alcohol Sex Motives Depressive symptoms 



The authors would like to sincerely thank our research assistant, Ankita Pai, for assisting with data collection, conducting literature reviews, and proofreading/editing the manuscript.

Role of Funding Sources

This research was not supported by any grant.


Dawn Foster designed the study, wrote the protocol, conducted literature searches, provided summaries of previous research studies, conducted the statistical analysis, and supported the writing of the manuscript. Chelsie Young, Mai-Ly Nguyen, Michelle Quist, and Jennifer Bryan contributed by writing initial drafts of the manuscript. Clayton Neighbors contributed by providing conceptual and theoretical support and providing feedback to drafts of the manuscript. All authors contributed to and have approved the final manuscript.

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dawn W. Foster
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chelsie M. Young
    • 2
  • Mai-Ly N. Steers
    • 2
  • Michelle C. Quist
    • 2
  • Jennifer L. Bryan
    • 2
  • Clayton Neighbors
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Global Health and Population ScienceHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA

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