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Relations Among Motives, Negative Urgency, and Mindfulness Skills in College Drinkers

Problematic drinking is seen often among students at college universities. Possible motives such as coping motives (drinking to reduce negative affect) and negative urgency (tendency for rash reaction in response to negative affect) behind this drinking has already been studied in college students. This study focuses on testing mindfulness skills on college students to see if they can potentially have an impact on the relation to negative urgency and drinking to cope. 

To complete this study, 683 college student drinkers (age18-24) were recruited from a large university. To collect data, several questionnaires were used that asked questions about daily drinking, drinking motives, impulsive behavior, and mindfulness skills. The questions were primarily online and completely anonymous. What the researchers found was that students drank for an average of 6 days in the last 4 weeks and 440 of the participants endorsed binge drinking within the last 4 weeks. The average amount of drinks during a heavy night of drinking was 6 drinks.  There were four models tested for mindfulness skills. These skills included observing, describing, acting with awareness, and accepting without judgment.

The data showed that the mindfulness skill of accepting without judgment did in fact dampen the positive relation between negative urgency and drinking to cope. This means that the students that could allow thoughts, situations, and emotions to occur without being impacted by immediate evaluations had a much weaker link between negative urgency and coping motives. Results from this study can be helpful when colleges are developing intervention and prevention programs for students. It also may be helpful for skills training in individuals with impulsive personality traits that are engaging in problematic drinking to cope. 

Take Away: Problematic drinking and binge drinking is a problem at college universities around the country. This study focuses on testing mindfulness skills in students to see if they can potentially have an impact on relation to negative urgency and drinking to cope. Participants included 683 college students who answered questions surrounding their drinking habits, motives, and mindfulness skills. They found that many endorsed heavy drinking and the skill of accepting without judgment did dampen positive relation between negative urgency and drinking to cope. This information may be important when developing intervention and prevention programs and targeting students that have impulsive personality traits that are engaging in problematic drinking to cope.

Hoyer, D., & Correia, C. J. (2020). Relations among motives, negative urgency, and mindfulness skills in college drinkers. Addictive Behaviors, 101, 106135. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106135

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