BACKGROUND: Problematic alcohol use is common among university students and personality might account for individual differences in developing this maladaptive behavior. Two personality dispositions implicated in problematic alcohol use are negative urgency and neuroticism. However, the relationship of these traits to problematic alcohol use is unclear. In college students high neuroticism is not directly linked to problematic alcohol use. On the other hand, the experience of emotional distress in people high in neuroticism could impair the capacity for impulse control. Loss of impulse control under conditions of negative affect could trigger impulsive drinking and problematic alcohol use in the long run.
OBJECTIVES: We investigated this idea by testing whether negative urgency mediates the relationship of neuroticism to problematic alcohol use.
METHODS: Participants were 60 undergraduate university students who completed the Urgency subscale of the Urgency, (lack of) Premeditation, (lack of) Perseverance, Sensation Seeking, and Positive Urgency Impulsive Behaviour scale (UPPS-P), the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), and the Neuroticism subscale of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire Revised short form (EPQ-RSS).
RESULTS: The results confirmed our hypothesis as we found an indirect effect of negative urgency on the relationship between neuroticism and problematic alcohol use.
CONCLUSIONS/IMPORTANCE: It appears that it is not distress but the tendency to act rashly when distressed that is important in developing problematic alcohol drinking in university students.