Reciprocal Effects of Transitional Instability, Problem Drinking, and Drinking Motives in Emerging Adulthood
The cumulative experience of different transitions over a limited time is known as transitional instability. Young adulthood is a time of instability that can promote problem drinking. Theoretically, however, transitions could have positive or negative effects. This study was designed to evaluate reciprocal associations between transitional instability and problem drinking in emerging adults. These effects were tested in a sample of 402 university student participants who were under the age of 21 at time 1. Participants completed self-report measures of drinking problems, drinking motivations, and different transitions common during emerging adulthood (e.g., transferring to a new school or moving back in with parents). One year later, 285 of these participants completed these same measures. Data were analyzed with latent variables cross-lagged structural equation models. The results showed that problem drinking at time 1 was associated with increased transitional instability over the 1-year course of the investigation. Also, transitional instability at time 1 was associated with lower problem drinking by time 2. This later, unexpected effect may be explainable by elements of role compatibility theory. Problem drinking promotes transitional instability in emerging adults. However, transitions may also signify entry into adult roles that can lessen problem drinking over time.
KeywordsDrinking motivations Transitions Instability Drinking problems Emerging adults
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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