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Addict Behav. 2019 Feb;89:178-187. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.10.004. Epub 2018 Oct 6.

Key personality traits and alcohol use disorder symptoms in first and second year college students: detangling antecedent from consequence.

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Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, United States.
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, United States. Electronic address:



Studies have consistently shown that low constraint and high negative emotionality are associated with higher levels of alcohol use and greater alcohol related problems. Less research has examined associations between these traits and alcohol use disorder (AUD) from the first to second year of college, when alcohol use increases rapidly, or has evaluated gender differences in these associations.


The longitudinal College Experiences Study (N = 209, 60% female, 90% white) was used to detangle antecedent vs. consequence between constraint, negative emotionality, and AUD symptoms using multiple methods (cross-lagged panel analysis, latent difference score approach).


Providing evidence for a scar/complication model, greater AUD symptoms in the first year of college was predictive of rank-order and correlated decreases in constraint in the second year, but only for males. Surprisingly, negative emotionality was not associated with AUD symptoms for either gender. Qualitative analyses show that the vast majority of those that met an AUD diagnosis (90%+) did not consider their drinking to be problematic.


Given the vast majority of college students with AUD do not perceive their drinking to be problematic, results support the potential of using personality-based risk prevention/intervention programs to target at-risk individuals for problematic drinking, rather than targeting problematic drinking alone.


Alcohol use; College students; Constraint; Gender differences; Longitudinal research; Personality

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