DOI: 10.1177/00472379241237937 ISSN: 0047-2379

Establishing Motivational Profiles to Drink among College Students: Converging Patterns Using Multiple Theories of Alcohol use

Emily T. Noyes, Jared A. Davis, Robert C. Schlauch
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • General Medicine
  • Health (social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

Objective: While college student drinking has been studied utilizing many different theories and approaches, it is unclear how these theories may overlap in their explanation of problematic drinking. Rather than relying on one theory, examining overlap between multiple theories of alcohol use may lead to a better understanding of the motivational process underlying drinking behavior. The current study proposes that the Ambivalence Model of Craving, Behavioral Economics, and Alcohol Outcome Expectancy Theory account for the same underlying anticipatory process and sought to demonstrate this by establishing motivational profiles utilizing constructs within each theory. Methods: A total of 318 college student drinkers completed a series of surveys assessing their drinking behavior and the measures pertaining to each theory (i.e., Approach and Avoidance of Alcohol Questionnaire, Alcohol Purchase Task, Alcohol Expectancy Questionnaire). A latent profile analysis was used to establish profiles of motivational tendencies. Results: Results from the latent profile analysis indicated four profiles emerged, three of which were consistent with our hypotheses: approach, avoidance, and indifferent. The fourth motivational profile appeared to represent drinkers with an emerging approach tendency but relatively newer to drinking. The lack of ambivalent profile suggests that avoidant tendencies may develop later in response to an accumulation of experience with drinking. Lastly, these profiles demonstrated expected relationships with drinking behavior. Conclusion: This study is unique in its attempt to highlight similarities between theories. Results provide a useful integration of theories to allow for a more generalized understanding of motivational tendencies that develop in response to drinking experiences.

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