College Student Affect and Heavy Drinking: Variable Associations Across Days, Semesters, and People

Andrea L. Howard, Megan E. Patrick, Jennifer L. Maggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study tested associations between positive and negative affect and heavy drinking in 734 college students who completed daily diaries in 14-day bursts once per semester over 7 semesters (98 days per person). Three-level multilevel models tested whether affect and heavy drinking were linked across days, semesters, and persons. Higher daily, between-semester, and between-person positive affect were each associated with greater odds of heavy drinking on weekdays and on weekend days. A significant interaction with semester in college showed that the association between daily positive affect and heavy drinking on weekend days became stronger over time. That is, heavy drinking on a weekend day with higher positive affect was more likely in later years of college (OR = 2.93, Fall of 4th year), compared to earlier in college (OR = 1.80, Fall of 1st year). A similar interaction was found for between-semester positive affect and heavy drinking on weekdays. Higher daily negative affect was associated with a greater odds of heavy drinking on weekdays only for students who first began drinking in 7th grade or earlier (OR = 2.36). Results of this study highlight the importance of varied time spans in studying the etiology, consequences, and prevention of heavy drinking. Harm-reduction strategies that target positive affect-related drinking by encouraging protective behaviors during celebratory events may become increasingly important as students transition to later years of college.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-443
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Psychological Association.

Keywords

  • Between-person
  • college
  • daily diary
  • heavy drinking
  • within-person

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