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Psychol Addict Behav. 2015 Jun;29(2):430-43. doi: 10.1037/adb0000023. Epub 2014 Oct 27.

College student affect and heavy drinking: Variable associations across days, semesters, and people.

Author information

Department of Psychology.
Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University.


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. (PsycINFO Database Record.

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