Not the same old thing: Establishing the unique contribution of drinking identity as a predictor of alcohol consumption and problems over time



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Psychology of Addictive Behaviors


Drinking identity – how much individuals view themselves as drinkers– is a promising cognitive factor that predicts problem drinking. Implicit and explicit measures of drinking identity have been developed (the former assesses more reflexive/automatic cognitive processes; the latter more reflective/controlled cognitive processes): each predicts unique variance in alcohol consumption and problems. However, implicit and explicit identity’s utility and uniqueness as a predictor relative to cognitive factors important for problem drinking screening and intervention has not been evaluated. Thus, the current study evaluated implicit and explicit drinking identity as predictors of consumption and problems over time. Baseline measures of drinking identity, social norms, alcohol expectancies, and drinking motives were evaluated as predictors of consumption and problems (evaluated every three months over two academic years) in a sample of 506 students (57% female) in their first or second year of college. Results found that baseline identity measures predicted unique variance in consumption and problems over time. Further, when compared to each set of cognitive factors, the identity measures predicted unique variance in consumption and problems over time. Findings were more robust for explicit, versus, implicit identity and in models that did not control for baseline drinking. Drinking identity appears to be a unique predictor of problem drinking relative to social norms, alcohol expectancies, and drinking motives. Intervention and theory could benefit from including and considering drinking identity.



Drinking identity, Implicit drinking identity, Drinking motives, Social norms, Alcohol expectancies


Copyright 2016 Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. This is a post-print version of a published paper that is available at: Recommended citation: Lindgren, Kristen P., Jason J. Ramirez, Cecilia C. Olin, and Clayton Neighbors. "Not the Same Old Thing: Establishing the Unique Contribution of Drinking Identity as a Predictor of Alcohol Consumption and Problems Over Time." Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 30, no. 6 (2016): 659-671. doi: 10.1037/adb0000195. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.