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Alcohol Use in Context: a Psychosocial Investigation of Drinking Behaviors in a Diverse Community Sample in the United States

  • Jessica J. BrooksEmail author
  • Ezemenari M. Obasi
Original Article

Abstract

Personality characteristics, psychopathology, and other individual factors (e.g., motivation) are strongly associated with problematic drinking, but the extent to which these predict drinking behavior in a naturalistic setting, or how social aspects contribute to drinking behaviors in a diverse sample, is less understood. We sought to identify psychosocial variables linked to problematic alcohol use and examined real-time alcohol-related decision making in a naturalistic setting in a 2-day study involving a structured clinical interview, self-report measures, and an ad-lib social drinking task (following a 15-min mingling period, participants choose an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage to consume in a 30-min period). Fifty-one European American and African American community-based individuals (Mage = 23.78) in the Southeastern United States, classified as either “social” or “problematic” drinkers, participated. Those screening positively for major depression and antisocial personality disorder and those endorsing internal drinking motives reported greater problematic drinking. Individuals screening positive for major depression were more likely to choose alcohol in a social context, whereas impulsivity and social drinking motives were not predictive of beverage choice. Those engaging in social interaction during the social drinking task were more likely to choose alcohol regardless of initial preference. Results suggest social interaction not only influences drinking behavior, but impacts real-time decisions to drink alcohol, which is an area that has been largely overlooked in the literature.

Keywords

Problematic drinking Mental health Social interaction Impulsivity Drinking motivation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Data was collected in accordance to UGARF. UGARF had no role in study design, data collection, analysis or interpretation, or writing of the manuscript.

Author Contributions

Authors have contributed significantly to the preparation of this manuscript in accordance with the ethical guidelines and legal requirements.

Funding Information

The University of Georgia’s Research Foundation (UGARF) funded this research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGeorgia Southern UniversityStatesboroUSA
  2. 2.Associate Dean for Research, College of Education Director HEALTH Research InstituteUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA

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