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Perfectionism discrepancy and falling short of the ideal self: Investigating drinking motives and impaired control on the road to alcohol-related problems.

Self-Discrepancy Theory discusses the ideal versus the actual. In relation to alcohol use, an ideal self may want to drink a certain amount, but the actual self may end up blacking out. The current study looks at levels of discrepancy and if this is linked to alcohol-related problems. They also looked at the mediating mechanisms of drinking motives and impaired-control-overdrinking (IC).

The study included 941 participants who had reported drinking alcohol at a minimum of once monthly. The measures for the survey included perfectionism, drinking motives, impaired-control-over-drinking (IC), Heavy-episodic-drinking, and alcohol-related problems. Perfectionism included a 23 item scale with 12 Discrepancy items, 7 High-Standard items, and 4 Orderliness items. Drinking motives included a 20-item scale with 5 responses from “almost never/never” to “almost always/always.” IC included 10 items with higher scores reflecting lower control over drinking.

The average age of participants included in the study was 19.9 with 54.1% Caucasian. Results showed that being male was related to more social and conformity motives along with more heavy-episodic-drinking. Higher levels of discrepancy were found to be indirectly related to higher alcohol-related problems through higher coping-motives, greater IC, and more heavy-episodic-drinking. Higher standards in the Perfectionism test was associated with fewer alcohol outcomes. These findings are important when providing targeted prevention and interventions potentially focusing on individual’s personality traits.

Take Away: Self-Discrepancy Theory discusses the ideal versus the actual which can be related to alcohol use. The current study looks at levels of discrepancy and if this is linked to alcohol-related problems. The study included 941 participants with measures including perfectionism, drinking motives, impaired-control-over-drinking (IC), Heavy-episodic-drinking, and alcohol-related problems. Higher levels of discrepancy were found to be indirectly related to higher alcohol-related problems through higher coping-motives, greater IC, and more heavy-episodic-drinking. Higher standards in the Perfectionism test was associated with fewer alcohol outcomes. These findings are important when providing targeted prevention and interventions potentially focusing on individual’s personality traits.

Canning, J. R., Patock-Peckham, J. A., Walters, K. J., Bauman, D., Frohe, T., & Leeman, R. F. (2020). Perfectionism discrepancy and falling short of the ideal self: Investigating drinking motives and impaired control on the road to alcohol-related problems. Personality and Individual Differences, 159, 109909. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2020.109909

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